Zion – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Title card for Netflix documentary Zion.
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In this inspiring tear-jerker, we meet a young man named Zion whose life got turned around thanks to two people providing him with stability and an outlet.


Director(s) Floyd Russ
Screenplay By N/A
Date Released 8/10/2018
Genre(s) Documentary
Good If You Like Touching Stories

How Sports Better People Lives

Educators Who Care

Triumph Over Adversity

Actors Introduced
Himself Zion Clark
Himself Gilbert Donahue
Herself Kimberly Hawkins

Summary

While Zion is now in college, the focus of the documentary is primarily after he turned 16 and got adopted by Kimberly Hawkins. Before living with her, he bounced around at least 8 foster homes and suffered abuse, among other things. Yet, with a stable home, he found room to grow. Which included wrestling. Something which, as you can imagine, would require a coach, like Coach Donahue, to not only address Zion’s unique situation but also provide him what was largely absent in his life – a father figure.

And while the documentary may not end with him winning a major title, like state, regionals, or national, just knowing he still wrestles in college and seemingly is doing well, is all you need.

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Being that this primarily focuses on his wrestling career, it isn’t spoken how Zion handles clothes, the exact reason his body is as it is, and the other things you may find yourself curious about but know are uncomfortable questions.

Highlights

It’s A Real Touching Story

Zion noting he doesn't focus on his past for it might mess up his future.
Zion: I can’t be looking too far in the past or I’ll mess up now.

While it may not bring you to tears, hearing how a kid went from bouncing around in foster homes, being abused even, to going to college and having extracurricular activities is a touching story. One you don’t hear about often, in terms of someone in Zion’s exact position. Plus, it brings about the rare narrative where you get a touching story about how sports, and a coach, changed someone’s life. All without there being some exploitation or big win involved. It is just about how that became an outlet for stress, it provided routine, and also gave Zion a father figure in a way.

After all, can you imagine where to even begin training someone like Zion? It really shows that, as much as a lot of us dogged our gym teachers and the athletic faculty, there are many examples of those who truly earn their paycheck. Just as much as the guidance counselor or academic teacher who changed a kid’s life by investing in them.

On The Fence

There Are Some Questions You Are Dying To Have Answered, But They’re Not

This is not an interview but a documentary and with that comes some expectations. The first being, we are going to fully get to know our subject for one. However, another point of documentaries is being able to control your narrative. Not make it about those with shallow or intrusive curiosities or questions. Instead, you get to make it about your triumphs, the adversity you have found yourself able to talk about and have found a way to move on from. Something which is quite difficult for most and can be derailed easily when you lack control over the situation.

So while you do understand why certain things are avoided, and the unspoken response of “Google it” it is unfortunate more information wasn’t provided.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

Zion saying that he just wants to be myself.
Zion: I just wanted to be myself.

On one hand, it is a well done ten-minute piece which goes by like a breeze. On the other hand, while it is a touching story, it feels like the extended cut of a news story which was half the length of this. And while there is no need to get into the abuse and all that, there is the desire to know about the type of things, yes, you can Google, but would like the perspective of someone who is living and breathing before you.

Hence the mixed label. While you do have to admire the positive story told, which doesn’t necessarily try to paint Zion as a saint, the avoidance of the stuff which you’d be naturally curious about is a tad bit frustrating. Not to the point it takes away from the Zion but does push you to want something which goes a bit deeper than what is provided.

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