Ruggero Deodato wanted to show his ability to switch to a film genre to another.So he chose the tearjerker cliché to realize "Ultimo Sapore dell'Aria", a movie in which appeared totally unknown actors and that had some success at box office.Still today it is constantly shown on Italian local TVs.In Italy there were many directors that made movies focused on dying child and orphans.Deodato decided to rectify the direction and found his inspiration from Zeffirelli's "The Champ".But Zeffirelli wasn't so happy,as we'll see later. Well,we see this poor boy,Diego,that after leaving his family wants to change his life.A teacher -swimming champion in the past but then forced to retire for some guilt (drug?robbery?rape?)- finds for him a job at "Sporting Club", initially helping the keeper.But Diego enters in conflict with the young swimmer Lorenzo, and when the night falls Diego decides to make clandestine training.Casually spotted by the teacher,he becomes a regular athlete and shows his talent beating Lorenzo, that doesn't accept the defeat and leaves.So Diego becomes the n.1 athlete of Sporting Club and wins easily national championships (the "Rocky" theme cover is a must!).But immediately after the victory a brain cancer unleashes its fury leaving our hero almost dead.Despite treatments the situation is getting worse and worse,and the cancer strikes repeatedly.But Diego, despite this, wants absolutely to enter the European Championships in Holland,saying "if i'll not participate,it will be as i would never born".The teacher brings the young hero to a country retreat in Piedmont beginning an intense training course.The cancer meanwhile takes a little pause,enough for Diego to gather back some forces.It's strange however that the teacher could let Diego eat so much pasta and so many steaks between the hard exercises...In the same times our young hero makes a deeper acquaintance of teacher's sister which ends with the two falling in love.Finally our hero, that is become a respected person and a favorite for many boys and child, starts to Holland with the teacher.The girl will join then later after knowing that Diego is about to die.We know the rest, our hero starts well and takes the lead, but the cancer (HEAVILY reported by speakers,but HOW could they know that??) gives its last strike, killing the boy just after he ends with a suffered LAST place the final.BUT... ...Deodato had written and made a slightly different final,that has been recently brought back on the Internet. To begin,there wasn't the false start.Then Diego took the lead as in the known version of the movie (some scenes of the first final were spared for the second),with the Italian speaker (Guess who? Mario Mattioli of "Bomber",that refused to act on the reworked final being replaced by an external voice!) saying only reasonably "The athlete is leading despite he is reported in not perfect physical conditions";then Diego had an apparently little crisis but not falling dramatically at last place.He was engulfed in the fight for 3rd-4th position:but at last our hero reacted and won defeating for a hairline the dutch "lokalmatador".Very exhausted Diego was brought out of the pool to the "showers",and once here suddenly fell down on the ground.Dead.While the girl started to cry (like in the known ending),the teacher closed Diego's eyes and mourning him not as a boy,but as a man.The Italian speaker,informed by his interviewer,also mourned his death,with the swimming pool's attendance totally indifferent.Mattioli fell into silence,and there was a last and still silent shot to Diego's corpse circled by the teacher and the girl. The End. Unfortunately Zeffirelli in person was learned of that and forced Deodato to delete this final,claiming it was too similar to "Champ's" one (the death after a brilliant and unexpected victory)and menacing legal actions.The director of "Cannibal Holocaust" reluctantly gave up and directed hurriedly a new final,the one that we know.The SAD final we know,and the lowest point of this Italian-Japanese co-production otherwise good.Rest in peace Diego,you were a great man and a great champ exactly like Billy Flynn,be sure that somebody will avenge the last place that others decided for you.
Six stars out of ten.