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ESPN's '30 for 30 Gift Set: Vol. 2'

Sports docs that transcend sports

By Mark Fagan, 7:36AM, Sat. Aug. 20, 2011

ESPN's '30 for 30 Gift Set: Vol. 2'

Back in November of last year I gave ESPN Films' 30 for 30 Gift Set Collection: Volume 1 a glowing review and have no less praise for Volume 2. Yes, these are "sports" films, but their subject matter transcends sports and will appeal to documentary film fans as well as your sports fanatic friend/loved one.

One of the many highlights of Vol. 2, and my personal favorite, is The Two Escobars directed by Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist. The two titular Escobars are Andrés (the captain of Colombia's national soccer team) and Pablo, that country's infamous drug lord and head of the Medellín Cartel.

The film follows the Colombian national team's exciting run through the 1994 World Cup, the country's soccer fanaticism, and Pablo's involvement and support. The two Escobars are only connected through the national team but their stories intertwine in a tragic manner.

Andrés commits a mistake of colossal proportions, scoring an "own goal" that forces the Colombian national team out of the World Cup. And, eventually, would lead to his murder.

The Two Escobars is what I would consider a must-see doc, sports or otherwise. Many of the other 15 films assembled here are as well.

Fernando Nation directed by Cruz Angeles documents Fernando Valenzuela's meteoric rise to the top of the baseball world and how his success and charisma brought the estranged Hispanic community back to Dodger Stadium.

Four Days in October tells the story of the Red Sox's epic comeback after being down three games to one against the Yankees in the American League Championship series. Bloody sock and all.

Like Vol. 1, 30 for 30 Gift Set: Vol. 2 would make an excellent stocking stuffer or birthday gift for the sports fan/documentary-film lover in your life. At 1,153 minutes, it's the gift that keeps giving.

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