3 1/2 StarsDominic Purcell who portrays the lead in the boxing themed drama A Fighting Man has been stuck in Uwe Boll’s lackluster productions for quite some time now. To the point that I started to under-value the bruiser’s acting abilities. A Fighting Man gives Purcell and his co-stars a great showcase for solid actors delivering understated performances in a movie that is a lot better than the marketing materials suggest.
Sailor O’Connor (Dominic Purcell) is a washed up pugilist with over 60 professional fights on his spotty record. Never a contender, but always a tough man O’Connor’s claim to fame is that no one has ever been able to drop the big man on his ass in the squared circle. Reeling from the death of his family at the hands of a drunk driver (Famke Janssen) and strapped for cash, Sailor agrees to a local match against a hungry young boxer nicknamed King (Izaak Smith). King is a kid from the tough side of life, supporting his pregnant girlfriend by appearing in porn movies and doing low-level criminal activities. Both men need the victory and the money of the winner’s purse.
Setting the story as flashback during the course of a boxing match is a good approach to the thematic elements. As a linear narrative things would fall apart quickly, there aren’t a lot of developed scene, more like brief interludes and soliloquies that paint a picture of the back story leading up to both fighters meeting in the ring. It’s like Costner’s For Love of the Game except with guys swapping licks to the mouth.
Director Damien Lee is a former bare-knuckles boxer from Peru, his familiarity with the subject was evident in the 1986 film Busted Up, but has been refined here with a bigger budget and much better actors. The subtle performances Lee is able to get from him his cast is remarkable. All the roles have been filled with quality performers and the acting is on a higher echelon than is typically the case for lower budgeted independent genre productions. A Fighting Man is a vastly appealing work from a collection of artists, each at the top of their respective game. Look for Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach in a cameo role as a ringside physician.
Director: Damian Lee
Stars: Dominic Purcell, Michael Ironside, James Caan