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A Jewish woman from Detroit who became a boxing manager, guiding several major careers. This film focuses on her relationship with one boxer (Epps), who's reportedly a composite of several including Toney, McKart and Hearns. Kallen eventually left her husband of 30 years, and moved to Los Angeles, becoming the commissioner of the International Female Boxers Association... Written by
This was a huge, huge disappointment. It's a lot like a weak boxer. The story starts strong, but about halfway into things it loses it's legs. They should have thrown in the towel during the final act, because this movie was not holding itself up.
It's bad enough that the story has nothing to do with the real life of Jackie Kallen, these characters have nothing to do with reality at all. Even as a piece of fiction, I couldn't buy what they were doing. The characters black and white, good and evil, and there's nothing complex about them. This movie doesn't try to challenge you to think at all. Tony Shaloub plays a thinly veiled Bob Erim caricature who is always evil. He's never nice to anyone. Omar Epps plays a thinly veiled James Toney, minus Toney's uncontrollable temper, and with a much higher IQ. Epps' character Luther Shaw is just a kid who's had a run of bad luck and needs a chance. He's a hero. Ryan is also someone who just needs a chance. He and Ryan's characters have to learn to trust each other, believe in themselves, and have enough heart to follow their dreams. In this world, good always triumphs over evil and people always get their dreams.
Here's how Kallen describes the movie on her own site:
"The true story of boxing manager Jackie Kallen - dubbed the First Lady of Boxing - a former Detroit TV personality, publicist, and suburban mom, who broke into the predominantly male boxing community and guided the careers of several fighters, including champions James Toney and Thomas Hearns. Kallen later went on to become the commissioner of the International Female Boxers Association."
This movie is an insult to the sport of boxing. When you think about how low boxing has sunk recently, anything that insults boxing has to be absolutely awful. The big fight sequence at the end of the movie has to be one of the worst boxing scenes in the history of the movies. Think of the ridiculous boxing sequences in the later Rocky sequels, and then imagine trying to make them even more absurd. The characters do nothing but take cheap shots and then smack each other with devastating blows squarely on the jaw.
The saddest thing is the real story of Jackie Kallen would have made a great movie. Meg Ryan portrays her as a spinster working as a secretary for a boxing promoter in Cleveland. The real Jackie Callen was married, had a son, and was the publicist for the Kronk gym in Detroit. Callen's first big fighter, James Toney, was from Ann Arbor. The script doesn't even set the story in Michigan where things really happened.
In this world there's no Don King, no mafia, no sleezy gamblers ... it's just not the real world of boxing. There's also no controversial fight between James Toney and David Tiberi. In the real world, so many people felt the scoring of that fight was so wrong that the fight must have been fixed. That decision (for Toney) launched an investigation into boxing by the US Congress.
For her part, Meg Ryan offers no surprises and just plays another blonde who smiles a lot. Really, this is a role that should have been played by Marg Helgenberger of CSI. Ryan is too innocent. Helgenberger would have brought credible toughness and credible sexuality to the role. Charles Dutton is always amazing, and Omar Epps looks like an up and coming action star, but the script isn't up to their talents. Tony Shaloub also does a lot with a poorly written character.
If this movie really had told the real story of Jackie Kallen, it would have been worth seeing. Instead it tells a predictable fictional story about unoriginal characters that lack believable human traits.
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