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Against the Ropes (2004)

The Promoter, Die Promoterin

She gave the boxing world the one-two punch they never saw coming.

Directed by:

Charles Dutton

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 111 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: PG

On DVD

Country: United States

I’ve watched ‘Against the Ropes’ twice now, and I still can’t work out who it’s aimed at – spunky modern day women’s libbers who lapped up the likes of ‘Erin Brockovich’, or boxing fans? To be honest, it’s highly unlikely the film will garner much appreciation from either.

Based extremely loosely on the real-life story of a female boxing promoter who discovered a champ and stuck it to the man, it stars a horrendously-dressed Meg Ryan as First Lady of Pugilism, Jackie Kallen. Slightly unbelievably, she’s in a Cleveland ghetto one day when she spots naughty swearing black man Luther Shaw (Omar Epps) getting himself into a punch-up. Instantly appraising his scrapping skills as “off the hook”, she rescues him from a lifetime of drug-dealing and hip-hop music and trains him up for a shot at the world middle-weight champion’s belt.

Sounds like a pile of cack, right? Well, there’s a very good reason for that – it’s because it is. Playing as one big cliché-fest, you can spot every last plot development coming a mile away, and Meg Ryan acts from start to finish as if the whole thing is beneath her (the worrying thing is, it probably is). Cheryl Edwards’ rank-awful screenplay doesn’t help either. It’s chock full of horrendous metaphors, such as “the world is not an oyster”, “run with the big dogs, don’t just sit on the porch and bark” and “find an elevator, press some buttons – at least the only way up is up.” Strangely though, the only metaphor that sprung to this reviewer’s mind whilst watching Ryan trot ludicrously around in those skimpy outfits was one involving mutton.

Simply put, this is a silly film. Had it concentrated a little more on the boxing side of things, it might have worked a little better. After all, Epps delivers a decent enough performance with very little material to work with and not a great deal of screen time. Unfortunately, the film’s only real concern is pitting Ryan’s predictably-feisty girl power up against the big bad male stereotypes who stand unconvincingly in her way at every turn. Whether you choose to look upon it as a boxing film or a slice of female empowerment, you’ll have seen it all before.

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It's Got: A fat Ben Affleck look-a-like – keep an eye out for him standing behind ‘Men In Black’s Tony Shalhoub in most of his scenes.

It Needs: Epps’ championship opponent Juan Hernandez to have at least gotten in shape a little for the role. He looks less middle weight than jiggle weight.

DVD Extras A behind-the-scenes featurette titled ‘Ringside Seat’, a featurette on the real Jackie Kallen, and a trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10

Alternatives:

Erin Brockovich, Rocky

Summary

A film where the only thing skimpier than its star’s outfits is the storyline.

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