The life of wiry, gifted pugilist Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao is serious rags-to-the-ring-to-riches fare, a life that's climbed from war-afflicted poverty to sports history — with 10 world championship titles. He's even a congressman in his native Philippines, where his stature is Elvis-like.
The frenetic documentary "Manny" directed by first-timer Ryan Moore and Oscar winner Leon Gast ("When We Were Kings") is in many ways a biographical approach like Pacquiao's early boxing style: strike quick, haphazardly and often, and leave everyone entertained and dazed. But it makes for a choppy, unsatisfying portrait when any topic outside the worshipful career momentum and expected dazzling fight footage — personal demons, his growth in a corrupt sport, the weight of being an icon — is addressed.
Sometimes Liam Neeson narrates ("Boxing is a cruel sport …"), sometimes Pacquiao does, but mostly nobody does, and the filmmakers flit from snappy interview sound bite to eccentric clip (Pacquiao singing on "Jimmy Kimmel Live") to fists-of-fury highlight with no grounding in a timeline or emotional context.
As a sizzle reel, "Manny" feeds off the hype but leaves this man with fascinatingly renaissance tastes and ambitions still naggingly unexplored by the end.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sport violence, bloody images.
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.
Playing: AMC Universal CityWalk Stadium 19, AMC South Bay Galleria 16, AMC Norwalk 20