Veteran film director Damian Lee brings another fighting-themed film of his own writing to the screen, which is “A Fighting Man”. And as in a lot of his previous films, this is all but a straight up brainless fighting film.
Sailor O’Connor (Dominic Purcell) is an aging boxer, who has never been knocked down. The film doesn’t say whether he has a flawless record or not, but we do know that he has never been knocked down – a fact that keeps Sailor dreaming about still being able to fight.
A young, hungry kid King Soloman (Izaak Smith) wants to make a name for himself on the local boxing circuit and Sailor seems just the right fit for him – someone who has never been knocked down.
Sailor, being confronted by the fact that his mother is dying of cancer, accepts to fight the kid, knowing that he will get paid, even if he loses. And, after he’s paid, he can get his mother to her homeland, Ireland, which is her last wish.
“A Fighting Man” could’ve been a really cliche film, if written by someone else, but not Damian Lee. There are two biggest differences here, compared to a standard fighting film.
First – Lee shows us “both sides of the coin”, without emphasizing on who is the villain, and who is the hero. Both Sailor and King are described as fighters who desperately need this fight, for very different reasons (which are revealed later in the film). Both characters are alive and can be related to.
Second – the boxing match between Sailor and King takes place throughout the whole film, as Damian Lee fills in the gaps with flashbacks and interesting story elements.
Another thing that adds to the whole awesomeness is the cast. Sailor has James Caan and Michael Ironside in his corner. King has Louis Gossett Jr. in his corner. And we also have Famke Janssen and Kim Coates in supporting roles. Separately, Sheila McCarthy should be mentioned (plays Sailor’s mom), as her acting in the film is just superb.
For the boxing fans, the film also has Freddie Roach, the worldwide known boxing trainer, playing himself.
As far as the ending goes, on one hand, this is something a viewer should be expecting, while on the other it just might come out as a big surprise. In any case, again, it probably couldn’t have been better.
To sum it up, if you like light boxing movies and expecting something Rocky-like, “A Fighting Man” just might not be your cup of tea. So don’t be fooled by an awful cover.
The film centers around the lives of the characters, while fighting (boxing) is just a background here. If you like to try something different for a change – give this one a try. Damian Lee gets thumbs up for this hidden gem of a film.
BZFILM SCALE: 7/10
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