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Against the Ropes

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US, 2003, 105 minutes, Colour.
Meg Ryan, Omar Epps, Tony Shalhoub, Tim Daley, Charles S. Dutton, Kerry Washington.
Directed by Charles S. Dutton.

Boxing movies are an acquired taste. This one could be something of a test case for fans. In a completely male dominated sport and management, we see Jackie Kallan, a woman, become a manager and promoter. The boys do not like this at all.

Jackie Kallan was actually a journalist and media personality turned boxing manager. Her main success was in the 1980s. The screenplay uses the principal elements of her career to create a fictional biography,
highlighting the struggles Jackie experienced as well as succumbing to the hype and glamour of the boxing world.

This means that the film is operating at two levels. On one level, it is the story of a young man with potential to become a champion (Omar Epps) who is managed well by Jackie, trained by old-timer Felix (Charles S. Dutton) where all goes well until Jackie gets too ambitious and big for her boots. On the other level. it is a story of a woman in a man's world, being looked down on, humiliated, but, despite almost becoming as bad as the men who attack her, she stands her ground and makes a success of her career.

Meg Ryan mixes the brazen glamorous wardrobe of Erin Brockovich with that champion's kind of relentless push for success. She sounds and acts tough, hard-voiced, hard-boiled, ultimately challenged to be decent. Omar Epps enjoys himself both outside and in the ring. In the supporting cast, Charles S. Dutton (who fought in his past) plays the trainer as a gentle giant - as well as directing the film. It is Tony Shalhoub who excels as the hiss-the-villain ruthless promoter.

This is a boxing film with issues and drama for the sports' fans. It is an issues drama with some boxing for the non-fans.

1. The particularly of boxing films? The long tradition? This film within that tradition, focusing on the promoters, the world of boxing entrepreneurs, corruption, celebrity and ego? The fighters themselves, training, under the control of the managers, the personality clashes? The filming of the boxing bouts?

2. Canadian settings for Cleveland and other American cities? The American city, homes and apartments, the neighbourhoods and drug-taking? The boxing world, offices, gymnasiums, clubs, the ringside and the boxing rings? The musical score?

3. The title, the relationship with Jackie, with Luther? Their both being against the ropes, fighting back, eventually succeeding?

4. The film based on a true story, the life of Jackie Callan, as a journalist and writer, as a manager and promoter? A woman in a man’s world? This being a major theme of the film? The reaction of the promoters, the boxers? The tradition from her father getting her out of the ring when she was a little girl? The jobs for women – yes-women, despite their efficiency? A woman capable of managing, standing up to the men, handing the publicity, understanding the fighters? Yet ego getting in the way?

5. Meg Ryan as Jackie, as a little girl, her work for the promoter, her being ignored, put down? La Rocca and his criticism of the cut-out? Her having to get a new one? The aftermath of the fight? Her standing up to La Rocca, his dislike of her, his taunting her and selling her the rights to the fighter for a dollar? Gavin giving her the dollar? Her decision, facing a challenge? Going with Rene to see Devon, finding him a drug addict? The clash with Luther, his fight? Seeing that Luther had the potential to be a boxer? Her determination? The Erin Brockovich-style clothes, sexiness, flirtation with the men, confrontation of the men?

6. Luther, his background, Jackie seeing his potential, at the restaurant, his finally listening, his reaction to Felix, her making him apologise? The regime, his training, the friendship with Jackie, reliance on Felix, the collage of the fights that he won? La Rocca and his disdain? The TV interviews, with Gavin? The promise to gather for an exclusive for the championship? Her being tempted by HBO, the deal with HBO, Gavin and his disillusionment? Her falling out with Luther, his going to La Rocca? Her having to face the fact that she was as egocentric as any group promoter? Discussions with Felix, watching the TV, the insult to her, his support of her? Her decision to go to La Rocca, negotiating the contract for the benefit of Luther? Her having to disappear? Her antagonism towards Renee in terms of the relationship with Luther, her humiliating Luther at the press conference by talking about his education, Renee reacting badly to her at the lunch? Her trying to get another job, it being explained, demeaning and sexist? Felix’s coming, his persuading her to help Luther? The final bout, her going in, her coming down to the ring, supporting Luther – his tribute to her, at the club, the applause, the reconciliation?

7. The character of Luther, the experience of somebody seeing his potential, training, success, the emotional dependence on Jacquie, his gratitude towards her, his feeling of humiliation, going to La Rocca, not ready for the championship fight, Felix training him, the pep talk, his poor performance in the early bouts, the attack by the champion, Felix advising him, Jacquie’s advice, his winning?

8. La Rocca, the portrait of the egotistic promoter, demanding that everybody do what he wants, not taking anybody talking back to him, his dismissal of Jacquie, his dislike of her, the selling of the fighter for a dollar? His clashes with her? The championship fight, her negotiating the contract, his wanting her to disappear? The final fight, the humiliation, his champion losing? The dinner, Luther’s success, Felix bringing in Jacquie, his being forced to applaud her? His associates, the range of characters in the boxing hierarchy? Their antagonism towards Jacquie?

9. Felix, his work with documents, his past? Jacquie recruiting him, his seeing Luther, training, support and friendship, the final fight?

10.Renee, working with Jacquie, falling in love with Luther, Jacquie’s hardness, her reaction against it, at the championship, the final reconciliation?

11.The successful portrayal of the fights, the choreography, the camera angles – the emotional impact of the final fight, the aggression of the champion, the attack of the crowd, Jacquie and Luther coming life and winning?

12.A successful film? Sporting film? Expose of the background world of boxing? The portrait of a woman who stood up to men and asserted herself and found a place in the boxing world?

Created by: coffey last modification: Wednesday 24 of March, 2010 [15:59:06 UTC] by malone

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