There was a good atmosphere in the audience at the start of this film as it was introduced by Stuart Brennan – who plays the lead role in the film, the part of Howard Winstone, with the promise of a Q & A session after the film with director Neil Jones and Stuart Brennan.
RISEN by director Neil Jones, and written by Jones and Stuart Brennan, is the moving, true story of the rising talents of an the young boxer Howard Winstone (later to become an MBE), the boy from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, who was rapidly rising the amateur featherweight ranks as a fighter of some standing with a fearsome right hand
The future beckoned great things for young Howard until a tragic accident in his workplace that saw him lose the top half of three of the fingers on his right hand
But, even such a cruel twist of fate was merely a temporary set back for Howard, who, when goaded on by his parents, teamed up with boxing trainer Eddie Thomas (himself a former European Welterweight champion) who taught him an alternative way to fight, so that he could still compete in the boxing ring.
Through sheer guts, and determination, and using his new fighting style Howard continued to be successful, being unbeaten in 6 years and winning 83 out of 86 amateur matches. Howard soon turns professional and after another 24 straight wins, he gets a shot at the British Featherweight title against Terry Spinks, which he wins and then goes onto be champion of Europe.
Soon, the next big hurdle is the Featherweight Championship of the World ...
What makes this film stand out is the performances of the characters in the leading roles – Stuart Brennan is excellent as Howard Winstone, John Noble is very convincing as the trainer Eddie Thomas, and Grainne Joughin as Howard's Wife Bennita – there are some fine performances all round by a very well chosen cast.
I say now, that I am not really a fan of boxing – but this film has a lot more to it than that
it shows remarkable courage, determination against tremendous odds and set-backs, it has some quite emotional sequences – even during "the thick of the action" – my favourite stand-out scene was during the third World title fight against Vicente Saldivar – when the world, the crowd and everything else just seemed to fade away
leaving just two giants of the ring slugging it out in slow motion with a backing track of Beethoven's moonlight sonata
it was really quite an emotive scene
The Direction was sensitive to the subject matter (the Director also hails from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales)
the scenery and ambiance was great, music, acting all pretty accomplished.
In the Q & A session after the film, we met, listened to, and asked questions of Director Neil Jones and Stuart Brennan, who both wrote the screenplay
they were very open to questions and they told us of the difficulties (mostly due to funding) of making this five year labour of love
and it was obvious to all there the passion that these guys had for this film and the subject matter
and it certainly shows through in the finished result. The fight scenes were really quite intimate as well with some very close up camera action – and we assured that the actors really did make contact on several occasions – they weren't just acting ... and some of that blood was real!
I would recommend RISEN to fight fans and for those that would want to see a really well told biopic of a truly courageous, remarkable man
Howard Winstone MBE.
RISEN is 90mins long, is a 12A certificate and will be on general release from May 2011
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