films pack a punch

Townsville Bulletin - - Savvy -

Fans may de­bate how much Rock­yBal­boaadds to the Rocky oeu­vre. But there’s no mys­tery why Sylvester Stal­lone has made six films about box­ing, and just one about disco danc­ing.

Dra­mat­i­cally, box­ing has it all: One man (or wo­man) with noth­ing left to lose, con­fronting per­sonal demons, forced to bat­tle the pain one last time for fam­ily, loy­alty and re­demp­tion, with the chance to go from rags to riches (and then maybe back).

And that’s be­sides the bloody ac­tion scenes.

All-star direc­tors such as John Hus­ton, Robert Wise and Martin Scors­ese have made art out of box­ing’s bru­tal­ity, grace­ful move­ments and mus­cu­lar bod­ies. The Rocky saga has bor­rowed th­ese cliches mas­ter­fully. But if your fight-flick lit­er­acy goes only from I to V, you’re miss­ing some clas­sics. Here are a few con­tenders based on real-life box­ers: Cin­derel­laMan­sticks to facts that best tell the sto­ry­book tale of James J Brad­dock’s jour­ney from De­pres­sion poverty to the world ti­tle. It’s tena­ciously up­beat: Brad­dock (Rus­sell Crowe, pic­tured) is never shown los­ing a fight or hav­ing a se­ri­ous ar­gu­ment with his wife (Re­nee Zell­weger) de­spite ter­ri­ble cir­cum­stances. Rag­ingBull, by con­trast, is like watch­ing a car wreck. It’s vin­tage Martin Scors­ese and Robert De Niro, who won an Os­car for his por­trayal of Jake LaMotta, the de­struc­tive, self­de­struc­tive mid­dleweight of the 1940s and ’50s. The blackand-white film’s screen­play ex­plodes with vi­o­lence and ob­scen­ity, and the fight scenes, of­ten us­ing su­per-slow­mo­tion, are bru­tal and hand­some. Will Smith moves like a boxer in the stylish Ali, a long look at the bat­tles of Muham­mad Ali. But even the charis­matic Smith doesn’t fully cap­ture Ali’s elec­tric­ity. In Gentle­manJim, Er­rol Flynn is debonair and ath­letic as early champ James J Cor­bett, nos­ing his way into turn-of-the­cen­tury San Fran­cisco so­ci­ety.

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