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Film / King Richard

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"The most dangerous creature on this whole Earth is a woman who know how to think."
Richard Williams

King Richard is a 2021 Sports Movie Biopic directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green that tells the story of Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. The movie tells of how Richard through endless dedication and unconventional means was able to help his daughters rise from the streets of Compton, California to reach the highest echelons of the tennis world.

The movie stars Will Smith as Richard Williams, Aunjanue Ellis as Brandi Williams, Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams, Demi Singleton as Serena Williams, with Jon Bernthal, Tony Goldwyn, and Dylan McDermott in supporting roles.

The movie was released on November 19, 2021 in theaters and on HBO Max.

Has nothing to do with King Richard the Lionheart.

Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2.

King Richard contains examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: Roc, the gangster that makes crude comments to Tunde and assaults and harasses Richard for defending her, is shot and presumably killed in a drive-by just seconds before Richard was going to do the deed himself.
  • Behind Every Great Man: In Brandy's argument with Richard, she points out that she contributed just as much to the daughters' progress as he had (such as fixing mistakes he had made regarding their techniques) yet only he wants the credit.
  • Big Game: The Williams-Vicario 1994 match is the climax of the movie.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Richard.
    "I wrote me a 78-page plan for their whole career before they was even born!"
  • Determinator: Richard has Venus and Serena practice even in the rain.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Richard almost makes his daughters walk three miles back home in a bad neighborhood just because Venus was bragging about her win.
  • Fish out of Water: Much is made of how out of place the Williams family is in the upper-class California tennis clubs.
    "It's okay, they're just not used to seeing good looking peoples like us."
  • Foil: Jennifer Capriati, a worrying example of what can happen when budding stars are pushed too hard too soon.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone familiar with Venus's career and tennis in general would know she doesn't beat Vicario at the Bank of the West Classic tournament.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The movie downplays or glosses over the real Richard Williams' Domestic Abuse to his wife, his infidelities and the way he left his previous family to live in poverty. He also moved from a nicer neighborhood to Compton because he thought it would give his children more character, rather than actually being from there.
  • Humble Hero: What Richard wants his daughters to be, hating when they brag about their success. Ironically though, he later starts to get a bit of a swelled head himself.
  • It's All About Me: As Richard's behavior becomes more controlling, he starts to sincerely believe that all of his daughters' success and progress is his work alone, and makes career decisions on their behalf based on his own whims.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Richard is very strict and harsh to both his family and business partners, but a huge reason why is because he's absolutely determined to make the daughters he loves so much the best people they can be, both professionally and personally.
  • Lame Comeback: As Richard is trying to back out of their argument, Rick brings up how he's paying for all of his luxuries and has yet to receive anything in return. Unable to deny this, Richard just states that Rick is better than that whilst retreating into his home.
  • Loophole Abuse: Vicario takes a 8-minute bathroom break when Venus is leading, making her lose her concentration and giving the match to Vicario. Apparently, there's no time limit on bathroom breaks.
  • Mama Bear: Brandy does not take it well when a nosy neighbor calls child protective services on her and Richard, and confronts her herself.
  • Missing Mom: Richard has children from previous relationships that he never told Brandy about and who he presumably is never in contact with.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Paul Cohen is an easy going, friendly guy who legitimately wants the best for Venus. Tellingly, he still gives Venus kind hearted advice when they last see each other, even though he's no longer her coach.
    • Rick Macci is an extremely enthusiastic and attentive coach who similarly has a genuine desire to help the Williams, outside of just making money off of them. Bonus points for being quite patient with Richard keeping them out of matches for years and rejecting excellent deals.
  • Out of Focus: All of Richard and Brandy's daughters are present throughout, but the film doesn't give the others nearly as much attention as Venus and Serena.
  • Papa Wolf: Richard is highly protective of the girls, both on the court and off. He even considers threatening (or killing) a gangster who harasses Tunde.
  • Parents as People:
    • Richard doesn't attempt to hide that he's hard on his girls, but that's because he's so devoted to getting them a better, more successful life than he ever had. And despite being a tough dad, he's unfailingly loving towards his kids. At least the ones in his current family.
    • Brandy isn't quite as hard on her daughters as Richard is, but she still stands by and helps with his methods. Still, she does so for the same reasons as him, and cares just as much as he does for their kids.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Brandy has to give Richard a dressing-down as his ego gets out of control.
  • Sports Dad: Richard is very much one, but he genuinely wants the best for his kids, and is worried by the much harsher Sports Parents around him and how hard they are on their kids.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Rick spends quite some time paying for the Williams family's expenses without seeing a dime in return due to Richard not letting Venus and Serena play professionally yet feeling they're not ready. Once Venus finally starts playing, he's ecstatic to finally be making money with the fantastic endorsement deals she's offered.
  • Warts and All: Though Richard is the hero of the movie, the film does not shy away from his less savory traits — his over-the-top discipline, his constant self-aggrandizement, his inability to take advice — which strains his marriage, his relationship with his kids, his working relationship with Venus and Serena's coaches, etc.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Brandi calls out some of Richard's more questionable actions, such as firing Paul without consulting either her or the girls beforehand.
    • Rick also expresses his frustration with Richard over both not allowing Venus to play when she's ready and exploiting his generosity by stopping him from making money despite years of hard work.