Against the Ropes

Last updated
Against the Ropes
Against the Ropes poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Charles S. Dutton
Produced by Robert W. Cort
David Madden
Written byCheryl Edwards
Starring Meg Ryan
Omar Epps
Tony Shalhoub
Tim Daly
Kerry Washington
Charles S. Dutton
Music by Michael Kamen
Cinematography Jack N. Green
Edited byEric L. Beason
Production
company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • February 20, 2004 (2004-02-20)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$39 million
Box office$6.6 million

Against the Ropes is a 2004 American sports drama film directed by Charles S. Dutton (in his directorial debut) and starring Meg Ryan and Omar Epps. The story is a fictionalized account of boxing manager Jackie Kallen, the first woman to achieve success in the sport. Kallen has a bit part in the film playing a reporter, and a few lines in the scene where the press interviews the principal characters.

Contents

The film was shot primarily at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio, United States and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada at the Copps Coliseum. [1] Against the Ropes grossed less than $6 million in the US and was panned by critics for its resemblance to other boxing films.

Plot

At a young age, Jackie Kallen learns about boxing with her father and uncle in a small gym. Later, she becomes assistant to a Cleveland boxing promoter. Her boss then begins doing business with Sam LaRocca, a sports manager, during a middleweight championship fight.

Challenged after the contest to demonstrate an understanding of the fight game, she proceeds to embarrass LaRocca, who then offers to sell the loser's contract to her for the price of one dollar. She accepts, only to discover upon visiting the fighter in his home that he is addicted to drugs and enmeshed in a dangerous and self-destructive lifestyle.

Enter Luther Shaw, a small-time hood. Kallen watches in horror and fascination as Shaw pummels the former middleweight champ. She offers to manage him professionally. Shaw is at first hesitant, but eventually signs on with her.

Because of LaRocca's influence, Kallen can't find Shaw a fight anywhere in Ohio, so the two are forced to go on the road until Shaw makes a name for himself. Jackie begins to get swept up in all the attention she gets for being the first female boxing manager. Her attention eventually shifts from Shaw to her own media persona as her fighter's number of wins continues to climb.

Finally realizing that she is not paying enough attention to her only client, Kallen agrees to sell Shaw's contract to LaRocca on the condition that he be given a championship fight. LaRocca agrees, setting Shaw up for a shot at the title before he could be ready. Kallen arrives at the fight and stands in Shaw's corner as he pulls off an upset and wins the championship.

Cast

Reception

Box office

Against the Ropes was a box office bomb, grossing only $6,614,280, with an estimated budget of $39,000,000. It opened up at No. 8 at the box office, grossing $3,038,546 in the opening weekend. The film was released on February 20, 2004 to 1,601 theaters (widest release) gathering an average of $1,897 per theater. The film closed its box office run after seven weeks, gathering a total of $5,884,190 from the domestic market and $730,090 from overseas for an international total of $6,614,280. [2]

Critical response

The film garnered negative reviews from critics. It received a 12% approval rating on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, based on 135 reviews with an average rating of 4.2/10, summarizing it as "a bland, dumbed-down package of sports cliches." [3] On Metacritic, it holds a score of 36 out of 100 based on 36 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". [4]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times commended the performances for displaying "flashes of idiosyncrasy and flair" despite the "pedestrian script" but was critical of the film overall for having various "inspirational sports-movie clichés" and "competence that is more flat-footed than inspiring" in both the drama and boxing scenes. [5] Marrit Ingman of The Austin Chronicle found Ryan "predictably fine" in the "plum role" of Jackie Kallen but criticized Dutton and Edwards for relying too much on "the well-worn underdog formula" when telling her story and not focusing on more "meatier" issues outside of the movie's text. [6] Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club wrote that: "True to form, Against The Ropes favors a much tamer version of the real thing, never getting into the deep fissures that led to the real-life Kallen's long estrangement with Toney. Right up to the ludicrous finale and an even more improbable denouement, everything rings Hollywood-false. More galling still, the filmmakers' inventions take the zing out of the facts." [7] Nick Schager of Slant Magazine criticized the film for being a "lackluster melodrama" with a script containing "corny clichés and metaphors" that uses prejudice to add color to their story, concluding that: "While Dutton's fight scenes are directed with reasonable panache, the rest of the film's visuals are so blandly static that one can imagine the ease with which Against the Ropes will be pan-and-scanned for television." [8]

However, the film did receive some positive reviews; Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars out of 4, remarking:

"It works near the end of "Against the Ropes," a biopic about Jackie Kallen, who was (and is) the first female fight promoter in the all-male world of professional boxing. It works, and another cliche works, too: the Big Fight scene, right out of "Rocky" and every other boxing movie, in which the hero gets pounded silly but then somehow, after becoming inspired between rounds, comes back and is filled with skill and fury." [9]

Related Research Articles

Womens boxing

Although women have participated in boxing for almost as long as the sport has existed, female fights have been effectively outlawed for most of boxing's history, with athletic commissioners refusing to sanction or issue licenses to women boxers, and most nations officially banning the sport. Reports of women entering the ring go back to the 18th century.

Jackie Chan Hong Kong actor and martial artist

Chan Kong-sang, known professionally as Jackie Chan, is a Hong Kong actor and martial artist known for his slapstick acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, and innovative stunts, which he typically performs himself. He has trained in Wushu and Hapkido, and has been acting since the 1960s, performing in more than 150 films. He is one of the most popular action film stars of all time.

Jake LaMotta American boxer

Giacobbe "Jake" LaMotta was an American professional boxer, world middleweight champion, and stand-up comedian. Nicknamed "The Bronx Bull" or "Raging Bull", LaMotta was a rough fighter who was not a particularly big puncher, but he would subject his opponents to vicious beatings in the ring. With use of constant stalking, brawling and inside fighting, he developed the reputation for being a "bully"; he was what is often referred to today as a swarmer and a slugger.

<i>Ali</i> (film) 2001 film directed by Michael Mann

Ali is a 2001 American biographical sports drama film co-written, produced and directed by Michael Mann. The film focuses on ten years in the life of the boxer Muhammad Ali, played by Will Smith, from 1964 to 1974, featuring his capture of the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston, his conversion to Islam, criticism of the Vietnam War, and banishment from boxing, his return to fight Joe Frazier in 1971, and, finally, his reclaiming the title from George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle fight of 1974. It also touches on the great social and political upheaval in the United States following the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

<i>Shanghai Knights</i> 2003 American film directed by David Dobkin

Shanghai Knights is a 2003 American martial arts action comedy film. It is the sequel to Shanghai Noon. Directed by David Dobkin and written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, it stars Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Fann Wong, Donnie Yen and Aidan Gillen. It was released on February 7, 2003.

<i>Shanghai Noon</i> 2000 American film directed by Tom Dey

Shanghai Noon is a 2000 martial arts Western comedy film starring Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson and Lucy Liu. The first in the Shanghai film series and marking the directorial debut of Tom Dey, Shanghai Noon was written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.

James Toney American former boxer and mixed martial artist

James Nathaniel Toney is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1988 to 2017. He held multiple world championships in three weight classes, including the IBF and lineal middleweight titles from 1991 to 1993, the IBF super middleweight title from 1993 to 1994, and the IBF cruiserweight title in 2003. Toney also challenged twice for a world heavyweight title in 2005 and 2006, and was victorious the first time but was later stripped due to a failed drug test. Overall, he competed in fifteen world title fights across four weight classes.

Genaro Hernández was an American professional boxer who competed from 1984 to 1998. He was a two-time super featherweight world champion, having held the WBA title from 1991 to 1995, and the WBC and lineal titles from 1997 to 1998. Additionally, he challenged for the WBO lightweight title in 1995.

Jackie Kallen is one of boxing's first and most successful female managers. Her life was the inspiration for the 2004 film Against the Ropes, starring Meg Ryan as Kallen, in which she had a brief speaking role as a reporter. She also worked as a consultant for Mark Burnett's reality TV series The Contender.

<i>Mr. 3000</i> 2004 film by Charles Stone III

Mr. 3000 is a 2004 American sports comedy film directed by Charles Stone III. It stars Bernie Mac and Angela Bassett. The film's plot surrounds a retired Major League Baseball player who makes a comeback at age 47 in order to attain 3,000 hits. Mr. 3000 received mixed reviews from critics and was a box-office flop, grossing $21 million worldwide against a $30 million budget.

<i>Million Dollar Baby</i> 2004 film by Clint Eastwood

Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film directed, co-produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood from a screenplay written by Paul Haggis, based on short stories by F.X. Toole, the pen name of fight manager and cutman Jerry Boyd. It stars Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman. The film follows Margaret "Maggie" Fitzgerald (Swank), an underdog amateur boxer who is helped by an underappreciated boxing trainer (Eastwood) to achieve her dream of becoming a professional.

Suzanne Riccio-Major, also known as Suzanne Riccio, is a former female boxer who fought two times for world titles. She also competed against many of women's boxing top fighters.

Tarick Salmaci is a Lebanese-American former professional boxer and North American Boxing Organization (NABO) middleweight champion. He was one of 16 boxers chosen worldwide to participate on season 1 of NBC's reality television series The Contender.

<i>Girlfight</i> 2000 American film directed by Karyn Kusama

Girlfight is a 2000 American sports drama film written and directed by Karyn Kusama and starring Michelle Rodriguez in both of their film debuts. It follows Diana Guzman, a troubled teenager from Brooklyn who decides to channel her aggression by training to become a boxer, despite the disapproval of both her father and her prospective trainers and competitors in the male-dominated sport.

<i>The Main Event</i> (1979 film) 1979 film by Howard Zieff

The Main Event is a 1979 American sports romantic comedy film starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal, written by Gail Parent, directed by Howard Zieff, and produced by Renée Missel and Howard Rosenman.

<i>Saint Ralph</i> 2004 Canadian film directed by Michael McGowan

Saint Ralph is a 2004 Canadian comedy-drama film written and directed by Michael McGowan. Its central character is a teenage boy who trains for the 1954 Boston Marathon in the hope a victory will be the miracle his mother needs to awaken from a coma.

Melissa Hernández Pacheco is a Puerto Rican professional boxer. She held the WBC female featherweight title from 2012 to 2013 and challenged once for the WBC female lightweight title in 2011.

<i>Triumph of the Spirit</i> 1989 film by Robert M. Young

Triumph of the Spirit is a 1989 American biographical drama film directed by Robert M. Young and starring Willem Dafoe and Edward James Olmos. The screenplay was inspired by true events, the same as the older Slovak film The Boxer and Death directed by Peter Solan. The majority of the film is set in the German Nazi death camp at Auschwitz during the Holocaust and details how the Jewish Greek boxer Salamo Arouch was forced to fight other internees to the death for the SS guards' entertainment. Prior to Triumph of the Spirit, no major feature film had ever been shot on location at Auschwitz.

<i>Price of Glory</i> 2000 American film directed by Carlos Ávila

Price of Glory is a 2000 American sports drama film written by Phil Berger, directed by Carlos Avila and starring Jimmy Smits. The movie was nominated for several ALMA Awards in 2001. The film was shot in Huntington Park, California, Los Angeles, California, and Nogales, Arizona. The film was released by New Line Cinema on March 31, 2000.

References

  1. "Internet Movie Database - List of Films shot in Hamilton, Ontario" . Retrieved 2008-01-29.
  2. "Against the Ropes". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  3. "Against the Ropes (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes . Fandango Media. Archived from the original on September 27, 2020. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  4. "Against the Ropes". Metacritic . CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on August 21, 2020. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  5. Scott, A. O. (February 20, 2004). "Film Review: Fearlessly Going Where The Punches Are Flying" . The New York Times . Archived from the original on September 27, 2020. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  6. Ingman, Marrit (February 20, 2004). "Against the Ropes - Movie Review". The Austin Chronicle . Archived from the original on February 28, 2021. Retrieved February 28, 2021.Star full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg
  7. Tobias, Scott (February 17, 2004). "Against The Ropes". The A.V. Club . The Onion. Archived from the original on February 28, 2021. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  8. Schager, Nick (January 23, 2004). "Review: Against the Ropes". Slant Magazine . Retrieved February 28, 2021.Star full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg
  9. Ebert, Roger (February 20, 2004). "Against the Ropes". Chicago Sun-Times . Sun-Times Media Group. Archived from the original on April 18, 2020. Retrieved February 27, 2021 via RogerEbert.com.Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg