1 StarUppercut Man a.k.a. The Opponent is an Italian made cheapie that serves as a lower echelon example of that country’s exploitation era. The B-movie producers in Italy were renowned for their constant sword & sandals rip-offs of Conan the Barbarian or The Beastmaster. So, it should come as no surprise that the Italian’s eventually turned their attention to ripping-off Rocky.
Hulking Daniel Greene plays a wanna be contender who gets mixed up with crime boss Giuliano Gemma (in an against type villain role) to repeatedly throw a series of bouts for profit. Of course, our hero gets fed up with the partnership and spends the rest of the film trying to escape the mob’s goons and live happily ever after with his girlfriend (Keely Shaye Smith). The film is literally constructed on cliché scenes and characterizations including Ernest Borgnine as Smith’s father who winds up warming up to Greene, and vamping Mary Stavin as Gemma’s femme fatale mistress who manages to cause trouble just by leering.
Those acquainted with this level of foreign filmmaking may find small pleasures throughout Uppercut Man. However, a most annoying theme song is totally out-of-place and endlessly repeated until it goes from comical to maniacal. Star Daniel Greene is actually quite appealing in a Ken Wahl meets Ted McGinley way. Too bad the fun of the boxing storyline has been overshadowed by a melodramatic love triangle and soap opera theatrics. I prefer the much sillier and entertaining Conquest (1983).
Director: Sergio Martino
Stars: Ernest Borgnine, Daniel Greene, Giuliano Gemma