The Boxer (1997) Poster

(1997)

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Day-Lewis and Watson: Outstanding!
intuitive72 April 2003
Jim Sheridan's films are always powerful. Shakespearian in their intensity of character conflict, they bristle with grit, are masterfully acted, and propel themselves the way John Ford's best films do. I consider him, even with his limited output, one of the great A list directors. No, his camera work isn't stunning crane and rail ballet, it's old school - but GREAT old school - Zinneman, Ford. And if you're a filmgoer who likes to care deeply about characters, Sheridan makes your kind of film.

Acting doesn't get better or more truthful than Daniel Day Lewis and Emily Watson working together. They're absolutely believable - inspiring actually - as a couple struggling through forbidden love after 14 years apart. The dialogue they work with is A plus and written by Sheridan; thus it's probably tuned collaboratively during rehearsal. Very organic. Great (!) work by Gerard McSorley, Brian Cox (L.I.E.) and David Stott as Ike.

Yep, Northern Ireland as Sheridan portrays it can be dreary, as commented here. But it's also full of humanity, drunkeness, hope, cruelty, love, loyalty, oppression, and a desperate longing for change - all the stuff of true drama. The action commences at the moment Ireland is on the cusp of real but fragile peace. Boxing and the IRA? A one two punch.

I love this film and I'd watch it again with any friend who wanted to see an excellently written and played picture. If you want your blood to boil from some fine performers playing strongly written characters, check this out. Not quite "Elizabeth", but powerful. Good enough dramatically (albeit not quite visually) to sit on the same shelf with Raging Bull.
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9/10
Difficult but rewarding
SKG-216 February 1999
I think the reason this wasn't as well received as MY LEFT FOOT and IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER (the previous collaborations of Daniel Day-Lewis and Jim Sheridan) is this is telling a more complex tale, and while I loved both of those films, this one you have to work harder for. It should be said there are some lapses, particularly in the dialogue, which is often unnecessarily repeated. And sometimes, in his attempt not to play on our emotions too much, Sheridan goes too far in the opposite direction, making the film too distant.

Still, this is a powerful film. Sheridan was accused with IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER with making an anti-British film, but in that one and this one, he shows he's not afraid of taking on his own people as well. At the same time, while his sympathies are with Day-Lewis' character, he's able to recognize all sides of the situation, as to emphasize the point that peace is always hard work. Day-Lewis, as usual, gives an outstanding performance, though he's a little too old, and Watson continues to grow as an actress with her performance.
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9/10
Realistic, depressing and yet full of hope
BBCdk14 July 1999
I really liked this film for several reasons. Firstly, it dares to tell the story of ordinary people caught up in a conflict that they don't want to be a part of, and having their best hopes crushed. The script isn't written to be a crowd-pleaser.

Secondly, the story and the style of narration is wonderfully subdued and lowkey, both fitting the story perfectly and allowing the viewer to really involve him/herself in the story and characters.

Finally, the performances of Day-Lewis and Watson are very good. Day-Lewis lends great credibility to his character. He is no Mel Gibson or Harrison Ford rising again with a firm jaw after each blow, but rather a believable portrait of a man believing and wanting to do his best, but time and time again having his hopes crushed.

But the real star performance of the film is by Watson. After "Breaking the Waves" I had written her off (sorry, but I tend to do that with people who have played in von Trier movies), but her performance in this film is simply outstanding. Her portrait of both pride, strength and vulnerability is amazing.

9 out of 10.
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Sheridan's Most Complex And Misunderstood
Chrysanthepop24 February 2009
Sheridan's 'The Boxer' is far more complex than his other films like 'In The Name of The Father', 'My Left Foot' and 'In America'. The story revolves around a neighborhood of ordinary (and not-so-ordinary people) living in a troubled Northern Ireland. Sheridan successfully depicts the problem from both sides. One witnesses how difficult it is to lead a normal life in peace as this will be looked down upon and even used against you. The use of washed out colour gives a gloomy and depressing feel, and ironically also shows the weather. But, contradicting that Sheridan also skillfully portrays the love, devotion and hope of the people.

Fine performances are almost always expected from Sheridan's films and here too the actors do an outstanding job. Daniel Day-Lewis is superb. His restraint reflects Danny's calm dignity and he is very convincing as the man who recognizes a second opportunity in life and tries to make the better of it. Emily Watson is sublime. Her quiet portrayal of Maggie's strength, pride, courage and vulnerability is spot on. Brian Cox is stupendous. Gerard McSorley proves again how wickedly good he can be when it comes to playing menacing characters. Ken Stott is excellent.

I feel the reason why 'The Boxer' is so underrated and not as highly regarded as Sheridan's other films is because it's far more complicated than what they're used to seeing. However, in my opinion, this is just as effective as Scorsese's 'Raging Bull' and better than the likes of 'Rocky.
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8/10
Bleak portrait of a community trapped in a violent circle.
contronatura28 February 2000
The Boxer is an excellent film in almost all its aspects. The acting is quite good across the board, especially Emily Watson and Brian Cox. The cinematography is often stunning, especially in the way it uses the cold and minimalist color palette. There's a palatable sense of tension that flows throughout the picture, made more taut by the various directing techniques used by Jim Sheridan. One technique is the shots from the helicopters that circle above Belfast, showing a community that is under siege and giving a greater perspective on what it's like to live in this part of the city. And there are three parts to the story, all of which work very well. There's the story of Danny's release from prison and his attempt to start a boxing club. There's the romance between him and Emily Watson, a romance that is forbidden by I.R.A. codes. And then there's the I.R.A. themselves, struggling to find peace but being broken apart from within by leaders of splinter factions. A very moving film (with a great score by Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer as well) and a film that really addresses the issues of neverending violence in a very direct and emotional way.
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8/10
Punches a Light into Dim Situation of N. Ireland
Gladman9 August 1998
The Boxer is dark movie about a seemingly unsolvable problem. It's filmed in a constant dark, dreary, depressing light; this light reflects not only the weather but the mood of Northern Ireland.

This expose of "the troubles" in N. Ireland uses a story about a boxer who returns to his home after being released after 14 years of imprisonment. His goal is to take his most usable asset (boxing) and make something of himself and his former coach.

Like everything in N. Ireland, living normally is laced with problems when you're in the middle of a war. His interest in his now-married former girlfriend is forbidden, since prisoners of war wives are off limits to honor the prisoner. Accepting gifts from the police force is also a sign of capitulation, and as such carries penalties.

The film clearly shows that those that wish to make peace (however passively) and live normal lives are marked as disloyal and targeted by the Irish Mafia (alluded to as the IRA in the film).

It's a sad commentary on a desolate group of trouble makers in a growing desolate land.
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Accurate in tone even if it is rather patronising in its simplicity
bob the moo13 February 2005
After fourteen years in prison for terrorist activities, Danny Flynn is released and returns to his community. Having blanked the IRA members in the jail with him Danny is not very popular but, since he didn't name names, is allowed to live when he comes out. Looking to get past the violence that stole over a decade of his life, Danny reopens his former boxing gym within a local community centre so that he can give the youth of the area something other than hatred and violence. However the discovery of Semtex in the community centre and his insistence that the gym is a non-sectarian venue brings him into direct conflict with the local members of the army council of Sinn Fein/IRA.

Perhaps I should not have watched this film today but it has been sitting on my "to watch" list for ages and I finally got round to it. You say, today the IRA issued a statement saying that the British and Irish governments "should not underestimate the seriousness of the situation" – the situation being them refusing to give up guns now that the police, the Irish government and the British government all believe that the IRA (while on ceasefire and supposedly pursuing peace) carried out the biggest robbery of recent memory in Christmas 2004. Now I do not know for sure whether they did or not but I do believe that all terrorist groups (and the political parties that represent them) should be ejected from government given that they are all (Republican and Loyalist) still involved in violence, beatings and crime. So this film was even more impacting to me because it was released at a time when I had just left Northern Ireland to live in England and at the time peace looked possible – it is typical that the terrorist groups refuse to do anything unless it is on their terms (even a neutral would have to admit that the British government has bent over backwards to get them involved).

Anyway, perhaps this film is the perfect vehicle to watch on such a night because, unlike many films about Northern Ireland, it doesn't have a bias one way or the other, but rather looks at the "ordinary" people who try to deal with the struggle and, like many films on this subject it gets the mood right even if the material is not that hot. By "mood" or "tone" I mean that this film has little hope within it and is not for viewers who are caught up in the current US assurances that terrorism is something that is being beaten by the use of weapons. Watching it on this day I can say that the portrayal of "the people" as keen to see it all settled in a fair way with both groups of terrorists surrendering their weapons, but the whole thing is confused by those who (like today) refuse to give up the gun while still hoping to be a "proper" government. However, outside of this the material is surprisingly weak. Northern Ireland in the mid-nineties didn't quite look like this and many aspects of the story are simplified – partly to make it a easier story but partly to keep up the movie stable that parts of the IRA are actually peace-loving people who would just love to get rid of every last bullet and gun. This material is rather patronising and may annoy those who have actually lived in the conflict rather than viewed it from the mainland.

The story also involves a romance that didn't totally convince me and the usual backdrop of a man trying to get out of the situation; it isn't great but the story has enough going on to hold the attention while also showing the wider depression about the conflict. The cast try hard and they do make the film better thanks to their work. Day-Lewis is always worth a watch and, even if he is a bit self-righteous here, he is still a fine actor and his performance is better than the character he has been given. Likewise Watson seems to have been given an insight into her character that is not available to the audience via the script, however she raises the standard by her work. Cox is good but his character is impossible to buy into. Support is also good from McSorley, Fitzgerald and others.

Overall this is not a great film but it is not a bad one and I suppose Northern Ireland is a very difficult subject to tackle. The story is rather patronising at times and rather bland at others but the film does manage to get the tone right (even if the scenes are a bit OTT at times). Bush may speak with grand words but this film and today's statements from Sinn Fein/IRA show that there are no easy answers and, no matter what the will of the people is, if guns are still involved then there will never be a peace. The film captures this truth well, shame it doesn't do much else as well.
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7/10
Grim and cold -- but Day-Lewis is again excellent.
Pedro_H2 November 2005
A former IRA man gets out of the can after 14 years and tries to rebuild his life in his old rundown Belfast neighbourhood.

This is a film that tries to cover a lot of ground and get a lot in. It has natural dramatic plus points in being set in a community that has been wrecked by civil war but has the hope of a new dawn. If only people would let it rise.

Prison does a lot to people. It is like a virus. It wears people down and changes them. Makes them harder and sexless. This is well portrayed in this movie. Boyle (Day-Lewis) has been inside almost all his adult life and is immature, but well contained.

Boxing is not the heart of this movie -- indeed it could live without it completely. It gives a dramatic centre, while the real drama is elsewhere and the message is not contained in the punches. In lots of ways it is a ticket selling con.

Director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot/In The Name of the Father) has done well with the limited material that forms the script. He uses a cool blue to replace the cold grey of the real Belfast. This prevents the place looking as dreadful as it really is and losing the audience.

Ken Stott plays an alcoholic boxing trainer who has a good heart and wants for the best. Sadly I don't put great store in men that decide they want to live their life in a stupor. Stott is a good actor though.

There is also a love story in this movie with Day-Lewis starting top pick up the pieces with his old flame Emily Watson. However the situation is complicated as her close relations don't fully approve (for reasons I don't want to go in to here.)

Any film that involves boxing has to nod to films like Rocky and Raging Bull -- and this film acknowledges it without borrowing too much. Indeed this is not really a boxing picture (as I said before) more a film about a man that uses boxing as he has very little else to cling on to.

The real weak point is the way ex-terrorist Danny (Lewis) is welcomed back and made a hero out of. Wouldn't his criminal record not prevent him from being welcome on the British mainland? Equally how good a boxer is he? Can't tell from the evidence here. Also you need a license to box in the UK -- and these are not handed out willy-nilly.

Small quibbles aside The Boxer is a better film than I thought it would be. It doesn't rub my nose in it any longer than necessary and all the thing really needs is something to climax on. What they come up with here is pretty weak and open.
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The Irish "Rocky"?
DarthBill22 April 2004
Daniel Day-Lewis plays a former IRA man released from prison for a bombing that took place years ago. While out and about, he tries to put his life back together by opening up a gym open to everyone regardless of their religious beliefs and rekindles an old romance with Emily Watson, even though she's got a kid and her husband, one of Day-Lewis's former fellow IRA mates, is still in jail. Naturally, the IRA starts making life rough for Day-Lewis, but he refuses to back down and be intimidated in the face of adversity.

Sure it may not dig as deeply on uncomfortable subjects the way "My Left Foot", "In The Name of the Father" or even "The Last of the Mohicans", but this is still a damn fine film addressing a still current problem in Ireland.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Emily Watson are a great pair and their chemistry helps keep the film aloft.
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9/10
Sort of like "In the Name of the Father....Part Two".
MartinHafer16 September 2013
I rarely watch movies more than once, however this is my second time watching "The Boxer". Why? Because the airline I was on when I watched the film is stupid. What I mean is that I'd seen 95% of the film---then they cut it off!! For years, I always wondered what happened at the end and finally I've gotten around to it.

Before I talk about the movie, I did find the choice of rolls for Daniel Day-Lewis very interesting. After doing "My Left Foot" and "In the Name of the Father", he chose yet another film set in Ireland or Northern Ireland. Because of this, and especially coming after "In the Name of the Father", there is a HUGE sense of Déjà vu, not only for the location but because BOTH films are about an Irishman who has been imprisoned for IRA activities. Though in this film Day-Lewis' character is much calmer, sweeter and subtle than in these other films--plus you really have to admire the way he prepared for this role*.

The film begins with Danny (Day-Lewis) about to be released from prison. I don't recall what it is he did to get there but it had to do with IRA activities and Danny is sick of prison and wants to put it all behind him. As far as he's concerned, although he's now 32, he wants to pick up with his old boxing gym (Holy Family) and distance himself from the IRA. He obviously has become disenchanted by them and their killing of innocent civilians. Now he just wants to box and do something very radical for Northern Ireland--open up the gym to young would-be boxers of all faiths--not just Catholics. His goal is to facilitate the healing through boxing and his idea generally is well received--though his old compatriots are not particularly pleased and do everything they can to keep the fires of hatred stoked. Plus, his old flame (Emily Watson) isn't sure if she should be loyal to him or her rather toxic family.

I really liked this film but noticed there were LOTS of divergent opinions. As a person with neither British nor Irish heritage, perhaps that is why I appreciated its message that it's time to stop the violence and have peace. I am sure this simple message irritated many on both sides of an insane conflict, though to me it just seems like a reasonable thing. Extremely well acted and quite gripping--I sure liked this film. I should warn you, however, the film is tough to watch at times. The boxing match with the Nigerian is one of the toughest and bloodiest in film history and the ending sure is tough to watch as well.

By the way, it could be because I watched the film streaming through Netflix, but there were no captions. I really would have preferred them since I am a bit hard of hearing and it's sometimes tough for me to understand the accents--and I am sure some others might have the same experience.

*Day-Lewis' acting method is legendary and even a bit scary. Even most method actors would be shocked how he puts himself into the roles (such as behaving as if he had severe cerebral palsy every second--even when the cameras were off while doing "My Left Foot"--necessitating insane things to accommodate his 'disability' by the crew). Here, according to IMDb, he worked for three years (THREE YEARS!) to perfect his boxing skills! Wow...that's dedication. And, while it might sound crazy, he is the actor with the most lifetime Oscars for Best Actor with three statuettes to his credit so far!!
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Unadorned but Unsupported Storytelling
tedg14 June 2000
This film has a finely constructed drama, well acted (with two very effective actors). So why am I unsatisfied? Because this could just as well have been a play or a TV show. There's no FILM in this film.

It used to be that if the camera wasn't stationary with only a few positions, we'd notice. Now, the opposite is the case. The old style of doing things -- as used here -- creates a distance between viewer and actor that cannot be bridged by even the heaviweight characters we have in `The Boxer.' The editing is unobtrusively predictable, and the framing of shots apparently accidental.

The Irish -- especially Irish storytellers -- deserve better support in the art of storytelling via film. There's a distinct excess of discipline and lack of passion. Seems more Nordic than Gaelic.
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10/10
A Magnificent Emily Watson Performance
dianerpessler-461644 July 2015
Director Jim Sheridan's The Boxer is an excellent motion picture that shows the very human face of the dark times in Northern Ireland. The imagery of how the people live in this war zone is haunting and bleak, never to be forgotten. Daniel Day-Lewis is superb in his deeply moving role and he is surrounded by an exceptional cast. Particularly outstanding is Emily Watson as Maggie, a magnificent performance that lights up the screen and warms the heart. Watson is indeed one of England's most gifted actors, perhaps the finest of our time. Her quiet beauty, brilliant eyes, and depth of humanity are simply overwhelming and watching her on screen is a powerful cinematic experience without equal. It is outrageous she is not even listed as a cast member on the IMDb first page when she was originally prominently featured as Day-Lewis' co-star. Anyone who sees this film will never forget her work here and the image she presents of loveliness, strength, and smoldering sexuality.
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7/10
Worth a watch, yet disappointing...
ryanbuchanan_8221 July 2006
Jim Sheridan and Daniel Day Lewis have teamed together in the the past creating exceptional films such as "In The Name of Father" and "My Left Foot", but, "The Boxer" unfortunately will not be added to that list. Though a decent movie and well worth watching, it just doesn't captivate like I'd hoped for. Daniel Day Lewis succeeds in portraying Danny Flynn, a former prestiged boxer and IRA member recently released from prison after a 14 year sentence. Upon his release his politics have changed and he seeks peace through training kids boxing at a local gym, much to the dismay of his former IRA "friends". Emily Watson plays his long lost and bitter lover, en-raged with him for leaving her. Both do fine jobs of acting but it feels like the chemistry just isn't there, plus, their history is never quite explained and leaves you frustrated at times. My real problem with the film is that Danny Flynn's character never truly develops, and all you really find out in this film is that he was a boxer, associated with the IRA and loves Emily Watson. It briefly tells that he was imprisoned for his involvement with the IRA, but never specifies. It's obvious Sheridan wanted to touch upon the theme of Prostestant and Catholics struggle in Northern Ireland to live with each other in harmony, but personally I feel he failed at doing so.
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4/10
Half baked, clichéd and patronising?
eclecticdave22 December 2004
OK. Let's start this by saying that I am from Belfast and although I haven't ever lived in a nationalist "district" like the one this film tries to portray I am fairly aware of what happens in parts of Belfast. With that out of the way - the acting isn't that bad, Daniel Day-Lewis is pretty good as is Emily Watson except for the occasional dodgy accent the rest get through unscathed. It's not the "Irish Rocky" - despite sporting some very striking similarities in the plot, Danny never really fills you with much confidence. But the most offensive thing is the patronising tone of the film. Perhaps I have been put off by the skyline shots of another town that quite obviously isn't Belfast and the look of a film that could have been shot in 1987 not 1997 but the politics was patronising - a boxing match could bring together 2 communities that have been locked in hatred for 30 years? Substituting one sort of violence for another, albeit a much less nasty violence, is the kind of logic that causes these unending wars. Give me a break Sheridan. He also wrote last year's corny Irish-American flick "In America". The picture is fairly dark and bleak, this can be the case for people living in fear, but this film skirted round the true issues that confine them there.
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7/10
Could Have Been A Lot Worse
Theo Robertson4 January 2004
The only real problem Jim Sheridan has with THE BOXER is that he seems to be unable to inject much kinetic energy into the proceedings unlike IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER . Mind I`m not sure if that should be classed as criticism since ITNOTF played hard and loose with facts and was overly sensational , and do I have to remind anyone of the controversy with Sheridan`s previous movie effort with Terry George in SOME MOTHER`S SON ? So I guess THE BOXER could have been yet another movie where Britain gets the blame for Ireland`s troubles .

This is what I liked best about THE BOXER . the IRA terrorists seen here aren`t written as the brave and noble freedom fighters of so many Hollywood scripts , here they`re shown to be the worst type of gangster - People who feed on their own community . Yeah most of them want peace but that`s down to pragmatic reasons not down to any deeper morality . Anyone wanting to see a more objective drama centering around the secterian divide in Northern Ireland should watch this film . It`s not a film to watch over and over again but at least it`s a mature thoughtful drama on Ulster . It`s also well acted by the cast especially Ken Stott
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7/10
This place makes me want to kill.
lastliberal29 February 2008
I cannot imagine a better example of religion's failure than the war in Northern Ireland. The land that we celebrate in March as a place of happiness is one where Catholics and Protestants bathed the ground with the blood of their young.

Danny (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a former IRA member who has spent the last 14 years in prison. he just wants to get on with his life and forget the war, but it is still going on and cannot be ignored. He also has unresolved personal issues with Maggie (Emily Watson) to address. They have to sneak around as she is a symbol - a wife with a husband in prison for his activities.

Outstanding performances by Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown , There Will Be Blood, Gangs of New York) and Emily Watson (Hilary and Jackie, Breaking the Waves, Punch-Drunk Love), and Brian Cox (Zodiac, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy) as the man who was trying to establish a peace.

As you would expect of a film set in the war, there is no comedy or romance, just a dark, dirty, grim tale of life as it really is, not what we wish it to be. A brilliant cast giving us a needed reminder of the cost of war.
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10/10
Emily Watson Makes This Film Her Own
JohnLeeT28 October 2012
Emily Watson, the most gifted actor in cinema working today, gives another stunning performance, a performance of such power that it pummels the viewer with emotion to the extent that one is left limp in their seat at the film's conclusion. Reaching down to elevate Day-Lewis to her level, Ms. Watson bathes the screen in raw sexuality, passion, and beauty. Her heart is laid bare in this film and she tears open her very soul to allow her audience to witness the performance of a lifetime. Ms. Watson's beauty, her eyes so alive with life itself, her soft vulnerability are overwhelming. The screen is nothing less than electrified by her presence in this film and it is she alone who dominates all. It is a film that is well written, directed, and acted by a supporting cast, but this is film that belongs in the pantheon of Emily Watson screen triumphs and which will be remembered for all time due to what she bestows upon it. You will be left breathless and rocked to the core as Ms. Watson spiritually assaults your senses and drives you mad with desire, compassion, and pure adoration. In that sense, this is typical of any Emily Watson film. However, she brings out the best in Day-Lewis, just as she did Fiennes in Red Dragon and that inspiration and challenge she offers fellow actors is something new we are seeing in the profound efforts of Emily Watson. It is certainly welcome and does nothing to diminish her. In fact, it makes her own gifts and genius even more clear to all who love cinema.
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7/10
Great actors doing good work
SnoopyStyle22 October 2014
Danny Flynn (Daniel Day-Lewis) was imprisoned in his youth for I.R.A. involvement. He is released after 14 years. His old girlfriend Maggie Hamill (Emily Watson) is married to Danny's former best friend. He returns to his old neighborhood to a cold reception. In prison, he refused to openly support the I.R.A. but he also never named names. He wants to live life free from the political turmoil. He reopens the old boxing club allowing neighborhood kids and himself to fight in non-sectarian bouts. Maggie's father Joe Hamill (Brian Cox) is working for a ceasefire, prisoner releases, and ultimately peace. Maggie's husband is in prison and she still has conflicted feelings for her old love Flynn. When the cops show their support for the gym, I.R.A. hothead Harry (Gerard McSorley) is angered and the gym gets fired on. Later at a boxing match, police chief is killed in a car bomb which ends in chaos.

The boxing is the least compelling part of the movie. This works more as a love story between DDL and Watson amidst the conflicts. This is like a slow moving romance. That part works by the simple force of will from the two lead actors. Brian Cox is fine but it would work better if he's harder on DDL. Gerard McSorley is basically doing that part for the movie. There are some great actors doing fine work but the movie doesn't add up to greatness.
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10/10
This movie is about conflict and healing.
PWNYCNY1 June 2013
At first the story is murky, but then it picks up steam and by the end of the movie, the audience can feel that they watched something meaningful. Here, the director is using a love story to make a point regarding the divisive nature of politics. This movie shows an entire community inhabited by reasonably intelligent and decent people divided along political lines, with tragic consequences. What makes this story more ironic is that the principal character who now rejects political violence is a boxer, and a good one too. The man who hurts people for sport wants nothing to do with fighting. This alone makes this movie worth watching. Daniel Day-Lewis is a wonderful actor. He brings an intensity to the title role which carries this movie. At first the scenario, a man recently released from prison coming on to an old girlfriend who is now married, seems contrived, but in this movie it works. Yet, the main theme of this movie is not about romantic love but about conflict and healing. That an entire community is divided by a wall serves as a metaphor for what are obstacles to communication, not only on the social but on the personal level as well. This movie is about what happens when someone tries to breach that wall.
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9/10
12 years after, this is still worth watching again and again.
davoshannon22 June 2009
First of all The Boxer has Day-Lewis in top form. And according to Barry McGuigan who trained him for the boxing, he would have made a damn good middleweight (?) - his usual immersion taken to new levels.

And the support is marvellous. Always like Brian Cox, but here he's joined by Gerard McSorley and Ken Stott who put real grit and heart (resp.)in the story.

Yes, it can be seen as dour and downbeat, but there's a lot that rings true. Boxing has a strange cross-cultural appeal up North, and there were indeed instances of Protestant boxers in Catholic Clubs, and vice versa. Needless to say when any one of them took on an outsider there was an immediate unity that politicians could only dream about.

When during the first match Ike introduces the Protestant parents of a boxer who once boxed for the club (Sammy Orr), but who died in "the Troubles", I just choke up.

Everybody loves a fighter, and if you were in similar circumstances ???.

Don't forget it's a more than slightly sanitized version of real life. But as most people found it bleak and depressing already I won't continue.

Watch the great performances, and every scene - there's something going on at every turn.
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9/10
You don't have to speak to act
richard-19674 January 2009
As he has proved over and over, Daniel Day Lewis can carry a movie by his presence, without saying a word. The opening of The Boxer is his best example. Without speaking, DDL gets out of prison and begins to carve out a new life. With nothing other than the physical surroundings and DDL's facial expressions to carry us, this film sucks us in from the beginning.

I bought into the story of this young man of integrity. If you don't, I guess you rate the movie poorly. But I found this story more compelling than Sins of the Father, and thus more worthy.

I'd watch this again, which is high praise indeed from me.
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8/10
Classic story of conflict in Northern Ireland
mjhalta28 July 2008
This is a most excellent movie and should garner a higher rating. The acting is superb by everyone. This movie really opens your eyes to the day to day living conditions during the days when terror reined in Northern Ireland. It has a great plot and some good boxing scenes and more then enough tension for us old timers who still remember what that is. Yes the tension in this movie builds and builds to the final conflict between the forces of change and those that want things to stay the same. This movie is one that I could watch again immediately just because it is that good. I will add it to my growing collection. Some will find this movie slow moving and perhaps even boring but thats typical of todays movie goer's. They want to see the monster immediately and there must be at least 10 violent deaths per minute or they fall asleep and give the movie a bad rating.
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5/10
More dismal, dreary stuff about Ireland
=G=29 May 2002
"The Boxer" tells of a man (Day-Lewis) who returns to Belfast following a 14 year prison sentence for IRA misdeeds and sets about opening a community boxing gym while renewing an acquaintance with the woman he loved before being sent to prison. The film offers solid performances in a doggedly plodding and somewhat unsatisfying story which lacks cohesion and seems to come off like just more woebegone sniveling over the age old Irish rift. A good watch for those with the stomach for yet another flick about people caught up in Irish issues.
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8/10
One of the best boxing related movies I've seen so far
corinavalentina265 June 2019
The performance of Daniel Day Lewis is monumental, even though at the beginning of his career. His character and his acting brings weight to the movie, and, together with the story line, plus the fact that it really shows a page of history - as if you are there, living it with them - brings the auditorium so close to the movie, understanding it deeply and living it thoroughly.
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A Love Punch.
Arth_Joshi2 April 2019
The Boxer

Sheridan's sport drama isn't sporty at all. There is definitely hard work in here, but all the guns are aimed towards the aspiration of creating a big wallop of emotional drama that swoops in every political satire in this romantic tale. Now, as you can see, this is a culmination of multiple genre and unfortunately only romance soars above all. The reason being, an amazing lead cast, if Daniel Day Lewis is amiable to the tears of Emily Watson, then so is she to his gut wrenching punches. Combining it, they make one good cinematic couple facing and running away from their past. Fortunately, to cover in all the grounds, the film doesn't just focus on their perspective, the supporting characters too consume the screen time for the justification of their deeds.

Take Brian Cox for instance, his character that never helms charge in the film up till the last act, may seem like your average set up of a pawn-like stereotypical antagonist with money and power in his hand. Another surprising package that keeps giving us is Emily's nuanced performance that gets in on the ring through practical insertions like a fearful mother and a wife and more importantly an adolescent lover that as a past haunts her.

And in the end, it is all for the man himself, Daniel who is there in the ring himself, struggling and resisting his love towards Emily and a dodgy familiar arena that he adores and calls "home". Jim Sheridan, the co-writer and director, is often milking stuff, among this two hour of journey, there is somewhere a good one hour film that needed a better coaching. The Boxer is a hot headed fellow, easily swooned in and boiled up, unfortunately the makers couldn't manipulate it better to make it survive the 12th round.
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