Tough Enough Richard Fleischer

Tough Enough Richard Fleischer
Tough Enough (a post-Rocky boxing flick from 1983) opens with scene that could make be a short film on its own. First, we see a woman in a rowdy Texas bar wearing bikini bottoms and a white tank top. Drunk men in cowboy hats throw drinks on her shirt as she dances up to the stage, along with a few other women, also wearing wet, white tank tops without bras. But after the crowd cheers, the girls leave the stage and country musician Art Long (Dennis Quaid) is given the unenviable task of following a wet T-shirt contest. Soon enough, one of said drunks begins throwing things at the stage. Art responds by beating up the drunk and his two companions, then storms out of the bar with his guitar. This scene prefaces the magical realist style of the film, in which an untrained musician has the inherent ability to beat up three men with as many punches, but it also illustrates the feeling of an artist who can't find a place where his talents will even be given a chance, let alone appreciated. This particular musician ― our protagonist ― isn't just starting out; he recently returned to Texas with his wife (Carlene Watkins) and child after failing to find success in Los Angeles. Not satisfied with his blue-collar day job, he signs up for a local "Toughman" boxing competition to earn money. Given his talent for beating up barflies, it turns out he's pretty good at amateur boxing, and from there the film follows a familiar narrative line through to a national competition in Detroit, where Art finds himself up against a seemingly unstoppable opponent. Director Richard Fleischer (of Conan the Barbarian fame) gives the story an air of wish fulfilment, as Art is given the chance to advance his music career through the competition's publicity. The film's low-stakes attitude and Dennis Quaid's likeable presence make the 103 minutes pass quickly. Fleischer may not hit every note he aims for, but Art is an engaging character, for the most part, and his interaction with his family is affecting, despite the obvious contrivances of the plot. At one point, a drunk and bruised Art comes home and sings a lively barnyard song for his young son, who should be sleeping. It's a scene that shouldn't work, but somehow Quaid sells the moment and makes us feel for the guy. This Blu-Ray is a bare-bones affair, including nothing but the film. (Anchor Bay)