The Power Of One is a 1992 movie based on the 1989 novel by Bryce Courtenay.
The story is set in South Africa at the time of aparthaid.
It is about a boy known by his initials as PK and is played by Guy Witcher at 7 years of age; Simon Fenton at 12 years of age and Stephen Dorff as the 18 year old PK.
PK is English and grows up on a farm in South Africa. After a cattle plague wipes out the farm and the death of his mother PK is sent to an Afrikaaner boarding school.
With the rise of Adolph Hitler PK becomes the victim of bullying led by an older boy Jaapie Botha (Robbie Bulloch). One night he is woken up by a master to be told, curtly, 'You're mother is dead.' PK starts to wet his bed.
After the funeral his nanny calls on a witchdoctor
who shows PK how to face his fears. And faces them he does when he tackles the bully, Jaapie, and embaresses him.
He is taken out of the boarding school by his grandfather and placed in the care of a German pianist and botanist with a love of cacti. With the declaration of war Doc is interned and PK goes with him. Apart from the guards Doc and PK are the only white people in the camp. PK witnesses first hand the treatment of the blacks by their guards.
Doc suggests that a man named Geel Piet (Morgan Freeman) trains PK how to box.
The Kommandant announces a visit by the Commissioner and asks Doc to arrange a concert. How to do it is a concern but PK solves the problem by bringing the tribes together to form a choir. The words though are derogatory to their captors and sung in Zulu the Afrikaaners have no idea that they are being called cowards. One of the guards does though after he has beaten it out of Geel Piet.
After the war PK is sent to an English Boarding school. It is during an inter-school boxing match that PK meets Maria Marais (Fay Masterson), the daughter of one of the architects of modern aparthaid. Together they begin to run a school teaching English to some of the people of the nearby shanty town. This does not go unobserved as Jaapie Botha is now a police sergeant (and now played by Daniel Craig) and he is looking for revenge.
With PK on the run the police invade the shanty town looking for him. Inevitably, there is a showdown between PK and Botha.
I had seen the director, John G Avildson's films of Rocky and The Karate Kid but those films did not prepare me for this one. This is not like them at all. The violence in this movie is shocking from the bullying scenes to the beating of Geel Piet to the massacre in the township. There is no glorifying the violence here but a statement that said that this sort of thing happened.
It is also a brilliant film in the way that it portrays PK's life into his teens.
I now want to read Bryce Courtenay's book and it's sequel
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