Skating to Succeed
As a young boy Dan Jansen (Matt Keeslar) loved to speed skate and was determined to be the best and he keeps on going with the encouragement of his family and especially his sister Jane (Jayne Brook). His determination pays off when in 1988 he is chosen to represent the USA in the Winter Olympics in the 500 and 1000 meter races. But in the hours before he is due to race he is told his beloved sister Jane is dying from Leukaemia which hits him hard as he battles to keep his emotions in check during the competition. Despite promising to win a medal his emotions get the better of him as he falls during the races. But that doesn't stop him as he is determined to win a Gold medal in subsequent Winter Olympics.
As a Brit who has never had any interest in the Winter Olympics I have never heard of Dan Jansen yet despite this "A Brother's Promise: The Dan Jansen Story" is exactly the sort of movie which appeals to me. Unfortunately it left me under whelmed with a less than authentic presentation with a focus on the sentimental side.
Now in fairness "A Brother's Promise: The Dan Jansen Story" focuses on a very specific aspect of the Dan Jansen story and that is the emotional side. It starts off by building on the closeness of Dan and sister Jane then focuses on the grief which Dan felt which was to spur him on to succeed. But in focusing on this aspect of the movie it makes it sentimental and often churns out some sentimental cliches such as a romantic skating scene between Dan and a girlfriend. It makes it the sort of movie which will appeal to those who enjoy touching made for TV movies rather than speed skating fans.
Aside from the emotional storyline there is the small matter of "A Brother's Promise: The Dan Jansen Story" being a sports movie. Now I am no expert of the subject of speed skating but I would imagine that Dan Jansen must have been something special to present his country at the Olympics in the sport of speed skating. Unfortunately that side of the movie, Jansen's skills as a speed skater, his technical efficiency and speed is never shown and that I am sure is a huge let down to sports fans.
What this all boils down to is that "A Brother's Promise: The Dan Jansen Story" left me feeling under whelmed as it focuses on the emotional side of things rather than the whole picture. It makes it the sort of movie which will appeal to fans of sentimental and touching TV movies but will leave those who are fans of speed skating disappointed by not really showing the skating side of things.