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Against The Ropes

Charles S. Dutton

Against The Ropes
Armed with clichés derived from the worst cookie-cutter storylines imaginable, Against The Ropes easily ranks as one of the worst films of the year. Loosely basing its plot on the life of Jackie Kallen, boxing's first female promoter, the film mostly consists of wooden performances and scenes that are shamefully stereotypical. Aside from Omar Epps' portrayal of street-fighting hoodlum-turned-boxing champion Luther Shaw, the marquee stars fail to deliver the goods. The most notable case here is Meg Ryan, whose portrayal of the gutsy Kallen is alternately annoying and wimpy. Adopting a ridiculous tough guy accent, Ryan looks like she's about to burst into tears in nearly every scene of the film. While this might be consistent with the gifted comedic actress's recent Hollywood slide into mediocre dramatic roles, it's not certain what scene-stealer Tony Shalhoub was thinking with his obvious portrayal of Kallen's cretinous foe. The once bankable Charles S. Dutton does double-duty here, directing this mess and further ingratiating himself in front of the camera as Shaw's trainer Felix Reynolds. The two DVD featurettes, "A Ringside Seat" and "Queen Of The Ring: Jackie Kallen Then and Now," may sound like a promising avenue to learn more about the real Jackie Kallen but they actually provide little insight and are virtually the same. Liberally borrowing from Rocky and Erin Brockovich, Against The Ropes is a paint-by-numbers "inspirational" tale that is a disservice to the real Jackie Kallen, whose remarkable rise to glory in boxing is worth much more than this. Plus: trailer. (Paramount)
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