It almost goes without saying that this is an inspiring documentary about the Paralympic Games and those who created, organized, and competed in it. Of course it's inspiring, but what's really special about Rising Phoenix is how seamlessly the documentary reveals the importance and necessity of the Paralympic Games, not only for the individual athletes, but also for the world. At a time when, according to the documentary, hate crimes against people with disabilities are at an all-time high, the Paralympic Games present to the entire planet the boundless capabilities, drive, and humanity of people with disabilities, and the athletes profiled are a testament to this.
As Rising Phoenix weaves the Paralympic Games' past and present, highlighting the ups and downs since its inception in 1948, the documentary also shows how, in spite of becoming the third largest sporting event in the world, the Games and the athletes still face dismissive treatment. This is evidenced by what transpired during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, where financial and bureaucratic mismanagement nearly prevented the Paralympic Games from happening. And yet, this unforgivable behavior also serves to reveal the undaunted spirit of the Games, as organizers fought tirelessly to make sure the Paralympic Games happened and were effectively funded and promoted, and as the Brazilian people, despite the lack of promotion, began to fill the stadiums and arenas to enthusiastically support it.