Published Sep 26, 2007The opening scenes of Poor Boys Game got my hopes up. As it intercut scenes of the prison violence of a white racist (Rossif Sutherland) with the black family of the young man he beat to the point of brain damage, I got the impression that the film might be uncompromising in its vision and dialectical in its analysis.
True, director Clement Virgo doesnt quite know how to go for the throat the pack of bullies who are Sutherlands family dont quite register as the vicious lot they are but the script, which has the white protag released early to the displeasure of Halifaxs black community, seems to be ripping open raw wounds that Canadian films never have the stones to touch.
Alas, the films legs eventually give out. Once a black boxer (Flex Alexander) challenges Sutherland to a match, the film becomes a portrait of how revenge is no more helpful than the violence it inspires. But instead of becoming more complex it turns into conciliatory mush. For no apparent reason, the victims father (Danny Glover) helps train Sutherland for the fight, and from there on in the film pulls punches all over the place in support of a thin "cant we all just get along? message.
Its like watching an Alan Clarke movie morph into an episode of Degrassi: the grim setting is merely the backdrop for Canadian nice-guy "social issue tripe that soft-pedals the pain and flaunts its misguided good intentions.
The film completely runs out of credibility by the time of the climactic fight, delivers a coup de grace that had me rolling my eyes and left me once again cursing the knobs who make our countrys movies. (Seville)