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This started as an entertaining mix between Rocky and Hard Times (with a British twist) but as the film moves on a lot of hidden depth shows and the real quality of this film starts to shine through. The plot is about Danny Scholar (played superbly by Liam Neeson), an unemployed ex-miner who is struggling to put food on the table for his family. He is offered money by a local crime boss to compete in a bare knuckle fight yet the details of why he is fighting are left ambiguous. He accepts but is soon caught up in more than he expected when the real reasons behind the fight become apparent. This is all set in a small working class village in Scotland. Liam Neeson is joined by a superb cast including Billy Connolly, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer and none other than Hugh Grant before he became a megastar. There's also lots of familiar faces from British TV. The settings are what I enjoyed most about this film, maybe because a large portion of the films I watch are set abroad and it was nice to see something closer to home. Especially in a film that was very down-to-earth and realistic. This is reflected in the actual fight, I'm not lying when I say it's got to be the most brutal, realistic and down right nasty fist fight I've seen on screen. Imagine Hard Times just with five times more blood and dirty tactics and that's basically what you've got. But where as Hard Times was more action orientated this leans more towards drama with the only action scene being the excellent fist fight in the middle. Oh did I forget the score for the film was also composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Everything just felt like some real time and effort was put in to make this and this is clearly apparent when watching it. Recommended!
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