Sons of Medellin Collide in The Two Escobars


In a 1994 World Cup game against the USA, Columbian soccer superstar Andrés Escobar scored a decisive goal—against his own team. Jeff and Michael Zimbalist’s documentary The Two Escobars begins with that crushing landmark sports moment, and then backs up to fill in the details of the parallel trajectories of the soccer star and that other famous son of Medellín with the same surname (but not bloodline), drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Andrés joined the Nacional team at the dawn of its brief heyday. The nation had never been a real contender internationally, and grew so fast, says one of the players, that “people were suspicious.” Turns out they had every right to be: As the Zimbalists prove by cross-cutting between Andrés and Pablo’s rises and falls, the gangster, driven by a genuine love for football as well as a need to “legalize big heaps of cash,” had a hands-on role in his country’s athletic ascendancy, whether by footing the bill for neighborhood fields or assassinating unfriendly referees. Combining archival footage (including TV broadcasts of games, graphic crime-scene tape, and what appear to be Medellín gang home movies) with new talking-head interviews (crisply shot and impressively candid), the Zimbalists tell their stories methodically, letting tension mount until the end. A stranger to this story will guess how it ends by virtue of the fact that neither Andrés nor Pablo appear in current-day footage, but nonetheless, The Two Escobars ends up being quite the nail-biter.