Against the Ropes
Meg Ryan, Omar Epps, Tony Shalhoub, Tim Daly
Charles S. Dutton
Paramount Home Entertainment
Date: July 13, 2004
Review posted: July 18, 2004
Jackie Kallen (Ryan) isn’t fighting for glory. She’s fighting for
respect. To help “Lethal” Luther Shaw (Epps) rise to the rank of
number one contender, Jackie coaxes veteran trainer Felix Reynolds
(Charles S. Dutton) out of retirement. Before they can realize
their dream of a championship bout, they must first learn what it
takes to stand in each other’s corner.
The sassy, spunk woman teams up with an unheard of underdog to
make it in a man’s world. The two of them overcome their initial
differences and find surprising success, only to have that success
drive a wedge between them. They have to overcome their
differences and remember what got them where they are in order to
win in the end. Sound familiar?
I wanted to
like this film. Boxing has always made for great cinema, from Body
and Soul (1947) to Rocky to Martin Scorsese’s masterful
Raging Bull and countless films in between. Unfortunately,
Against the Ropes just does not fit in. The film never moves
beyond the familiar, mired in cliché, the end a foregone conclusion
well before the opening credits stop rolling.
If I am
making Against the Ropes sound like a bad movie, it really is
not. Meg Ryan is her usually affable self, affecting a midwestern
twang and creating a flawed but likeable character. Omar Epps does
well as the underdog Shaw. Epps did all of his own fight scenes, and
he makes them very believable. Charles S. Dutton, as the seen-it-all
trainer, is the heart and soul of the film, giving what is probably
the best performance. Dutton is the standout in a cast that is
competent all around; playing a character that sees the painful
trajectory of the fight game coming long before anyone else.
with this film is simply that there are no surprises. This kind of
story has been done to death, and it seems to come around once or
twice every year. Even the fight scenes, while well done, are nothing
spectacular. The final, championship bout, the climax of the film, is
the most exciting bout in the movie, but it is over so fast that the
drama is quickly drained from the scene. There is a relationship
between Luther and Jackie’s friend that drives a rift between boxer
and manager, but it is not explored in depth, much of it left for us
to infer. In the end, when “Lethal” Luther wins the big bout, their
differences are quickly forgotten.
While not a bad film, Against the Ropes is the kind of thing we
have seen before and will see again.
This film is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The
transfer is sharp, and all the color levels have translated well.
Against the Ropes
presents a few different audio options. There is an English
track in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, an English track in Dolby
Surround, and a track in French Dolby Surround. The presentation
is crisp and well balanced. The crowd and boxing scenes
demonstrate the superb quality of this presentation.
A Ringside Seat:
A behind-the-scenes look at how the film came to be and how the
film relates to the life that inspired it.
the Ring: A short
featurette about the real life woman behind the movie that shows us
how she went from journalism to boxing manager.
also have the Original Theatrical Trailer. The features are
decent, about what we might expect.
Against the Ropes
is an engaging film, but it never moves out of the cliché, and the
special features have a generic feel to them. Some might enjoy this
once, but few will want to own it.
VERDICT: RENT IT
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