Resurrecting the Champ Rod Lurie

Resurrecting the Champ Rod Lurie
If ever there was a Hollywood renaissance man, it’s Samuel L Jackson. Give the man a light sabre and he’ll give you gold. Drop a ravaged moll on his driveway and he’ll mend her back to grace. Toss him in a Boeing full of horny snakes and, well, you get the point. However, as an ex-boxer cum alley crack head/stoic preacher you might think Jackson would have his work cut out for him. Not so. He nails this one too and Josh Hartnett, for once, complements his top billing nicely. This is a boxing film but be warned Rocky fans: Champ is not so much flash, jab and hook as it is Media Ethics 101 — there’s more newsroom action than ringside.

Resurrecting the Champ is the true story of Denver Times sportswriter Erik Kernan (Hartnett), who needs a Pulitzer-worthy piece to get out of a nasty journalistic slump. Kernan finds his golden ticket in the form of a raggedy homeless man (Jackson) who claims to be a formerly high-ranking welterweight champion. Jackson’s derelict character refers to himself as "the Champ” who, unbeknownst in his plight, grants Kernan his "title shot” story. Kernan gets the story he wants and wows both his Times editor (Alan Alda) and the editor for whom he freelances the story (David Paymer), all at an unexpected price.

The film is more so a latent exposition of the article’s aftermath on the lives of those connected to it. "The Champ” takes a moral beating when he learns the distortion of his printed tale, which Kernan twists at the whim of a manipulative cable TV producer (Teri Hatcher). "People care more about being entertained, not the truth”; Hatcher’s devious words unveil journalism’s dark side.

Jackson (surprise, surprise) steals the show as the sad-eyed, gristly bum-who-would-have-been-a-contender. However, Hartnett and Jackson share a dynamite repartee, touching on serious themes like honesty and goodwill.

Cue a pretty, life-changing score, add some staunch support acting (Alda’s ruthless editor is the real treat) and you’ve got yet another Jackson pedestal piece. (Alliance Atlantis)