Attack the Doc: The Two Escobars
Welcome to ATTACK THE DOC! A JoBlo.com feature that explores the world of documentaries and picks out the best among the best, among the best. We'll cover everything from subcultures around the world, to economic collapse, to music and trashy hillbillies from every walk of life. So pop a squat, turn off reality and sit back and enjoy a little slice of someone else's.
THE TWO ESCOBARS
THE TWO ESCOBARS is a 2010 film directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist.
Leading up to the 1994 World Cup, Colombia had blazed an impressive trail to qualifying for the tournament. The country faced poverty and civil war with various drug cartels jockeying for control over the country's number one export: cocaine. It was up to the "Nacional" soccer team to not only fight for a qualifying spot in the World Cup, but fight to change their country's image as the drug capital of the world. Playing against their rival, top ranked Argentina, the local Argentinean fans hurled insults like "drug dealers" and "murders" at the team, so the goal was not only to come out ahead in the match, but to defend the proud country of Colombia. The team pulled ahead with a 5-0 victory and secured their spot in the 1994 World Cup tournament and were heavily favored to take the top spot. Upon arriving in the States to take on the national U.S. team, the team was inundated with death threats if certain people were in the starting lineup. The harrassers even hacked into the hotel's TV broadcasts to verbalize their threats. With drug kingpin Pablo Escobar recently executed, a power vacuum reared its head into the Colombian underworld. Escobar, a soccer fanatic, had funded and even partially owned the Colombian national team, but most of all, kept things in order on the bloody streets of Colombia. With the man out of the picture, professional soccer became just a dangerous a game as exporting cocaine. When defender Andres Escobar unintentionally scored in his own goal during that 1994 World Cup match, his fate was all but sealed.
Part of ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary series, THE TWO ESCOBARS has got to be one of the best in the series, if not one of the best sports documentaries of all time. The movie has hints of Blow in it with a dash of Any Given Sunday with the tragedy of Alive (soccer, South America, people die. It's a stretch, I get it.) For the uninitiated, you might think, "what's the connection between a soccer player and drug dealer? Besides the name?", but connecting the two and seeing how intertwined soccer and the drug game in Colombia is, floored me. In this country, every now and then we hear about point shaving in the NBA and shady refs, but to have a reputed drug exporter knowingly involved in professional sports is something that you don't hear. Pablo Escobar LOVED soccer and at times would host "friendlies" at this compound in Medellin where the Colombian national team would play against a cartel rivals' team for upwards of $2 Million a match. In the film we get to hear from Pablo's bodyguard, his cousin, about how he built soccer stadiums to keep kids off the streets, while the other half of "The Two Escobars", Andres, used his fame as "The Gentleman of Football" to call attention to the poor but proud country of Colombia. Andres, never comfortable with his team's relationship with Pablo, shied away from being the face of the Colombian national team, preferring to perform his humanitarian work behind the scenes. The irony of the soccer/Escobar relationship is that once Pablo was killed, street crime shot up dramatically and the soccer national became just as vulnerable as any citizen walking down the street. Players were harrassed, children were kidnapped, and unfortunately for Andres Escobar, his one unintentional mistake in the 1994 World Cup match against the U.S., cost him his life. It is said that the country was much safer when Pablo Escobar was alive since he kept everyone in line. Where before his death, professional soccer players freely walked the streets, after his death each player was escorted by at least 5-10 bodyguards. Some players quit their sport because the pressure and risk wasn't worth it anymore.
THE TWO ESCOBARS is a must see for any fan of history, sports, drugs or all of the above. How many times have you watched a documentary where you thought you knew the subject only to find out you knew absolutely jack shit about the subject? This is one of those times. Come for the coke, stay for the senseless murder.
|Extra Tidbit:||Andres Escobar's killer was sentenced to 43 years. He served 11.|