Five Lessons from the Film: Life of a King

Life of a King



Life of a King is like the usual inspirational films we’ve seen before about one person making a difference in the life of a hopeless youth. Despite the cliché, it’s a fresh film that can make you think for a while about yourself and what have you been doing with the opportunity that you live each day. I think that this is one of Cuba Gooding’s best films after Gifted hands and Radio which interestingly were all based in real life.

Eugene was imprisoned for robbing a bank forcing his daughter and son to live on their own. While in prison, he had a friend who taught him about life through a board game – Chess. He likened life to the King in Chess who has been through many battles in life, now weak and can only move one space at a time. In the same way, Life must be protected and taken care of.

Eugene got out after 17 years. He tried to find a job and reunite with his estranged daughter who’s studying to be a lawyer, and son who was at a juvenile detention for drugs. He only was able to land a job because he lied about being an ex-con. Eventually, he managed to get his life on track by establishing a free community chess club where he met some group of juvenile delinquents who has family problems of their own. The rest of the story featured him as he struggled helping those young people from making the same mistake he did. He taught them not just to play chess but really engaged them.

There haven’t been another film like this in the last months and its a good film for everyone to watch. The tagline from the film – “think before you move”, is a good phrase to remind ourselves that every decision we make has consequences and we therefore must give careful thoughts about our actions.

Five lessons from the Life of a King

1. We can always choose to do what is right. After getting out of prison, Eugene (main actor) went through circumstances that have tested His commitment to change and continue to do what is right. His past life attempted to lure him with money and job but despite the difficulties he encountered, he remained strong with his conviction and focused his mind at the end game. He continued to find a way to do whatever he can to live a life with meaning. In one situation, when a radio jockey invited him to broadcast his complain against an organized tournament for disqualifying his player after winning the game, Eugene turned out accepting their mistake because his player forged his mom’s signature in the waiver. He chose to let go and accept defeat.

2. Each person has valuable abilities. Eugene was able to see the potential in each person. He showed and gave them opportunities to show their worth. He valued them, encouraged and pushed them to make goals and give their abilities a shot to grow and shine.

3. Excel at what we know. As everyone has talents and skills, it doesn’t really matter what or how much we know or have. Excelling at that one thing we have can make a difference. Eugene’s chess student (who was a former thug) eventually gave him an opportunity to go to College when he placed second in a chess tournament. Eugene who seemed limited at everything was able to share what he knew and added value to someone else’s life.

4. Love your Neighbor. The film portrayed a human’s capability to give love despite someone’s background and past. Eugene’s outright display of care despite people’s indifference, violent attitude and ridicule at his job being a janitor and love of chess showed how he really cared for them. He provided a place where the poor and ill-behaved young people feel their worth.

5. Forgiveness. Eugene’s daughter slowly understood and accepted him after seeing how he has changed. His son eventually reconciled with him after getting out of the juvenile prison. Eugene forgave himself and did not dwell on his past.

The film shows that there is hope, even in a seemingly hopeless situation. If we choose to do what is right, we will reap goodness if we don’t give up. Our actions will define what and how we will be in the next.

For me, a film’s worth lies greatly on how deep it can touch one’s heart and compels the viewer to act and make a difference to one person and the community.


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