I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Monday, October 02, 2006

Against The Ropes (2004)

Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan) works for an unappreciative boss (Joe Cortese) who manages a Cleveland sports arena. The main perk of the job is that she gets to watch boxing matches for free. She's a big fan of the sport. She gets the goat of a underhanded, chauvinistic promoter named Sam LaRocca (Tony Shalhoub). Irritated because she dare speak up to him, he sells her the contract of Devon Green (Tony Kittles), a failed boxer of his for a dollar. Sam thinks Jackie will fall on her face as a manager.

Jackie and her co-worker Renee (Kerry Washington) go see Devon and find out he has a deep drug problem. Mistaken for drug dealers, the women find themselves in danger, until Luther Shaw (Omar Epps), kicks in the door. He's an enforcer for a drug dealer to whom Devon owes money. As Shaw beats down Devon and another thug, the women escape. Jackie, however, is impressed with how Shaw handled himself. Shaw is arrested for the assault, but she bails him out to give him an offer. She wants to be his manager. Shaw doesn't want any part of her, but she is persistent. Jackie gets a retired trainer named Felix (Charles S. Dutton) to work with him. Success comes quickly, but Jackie's star is bigger because she is a female boxing manager. This causes tension between her and Shaw, and continuing tension between her and Sam.

This story is "inspired" by the life of the real Jackie Kallen, who has a small role. Ms. Kallen has managed champions in six weight categories. Some of the details have been changed, like moving the story from Detroit to Cleveland for example. Ryan is good at bringing out Kallen's toughness and bulldog tenancity. However, some events seem to happen too quickly, like Shaw's rise, for example (the character is a mix of several boxers Ms. Kallen worked with). As far as a underdog-makes-good story, it serves its purpose.

Ms. Ryan appeared in a couple of memorable romantic comedies with Tom Hanks: Sleepless In Seattle (1993) and You've Got Mail (1998). She was also in When Harry Met Sally (1989) with Billy Crystal. Epps did all of his own boxing in this film. He was a backup dancer for rapper/actress Queen Latifah. He also appeared alongside the late rapper Tupac Shakur in the film Juice (1992). Tony Shalhoub is one of those actors who can play many ethnicities. Currently, he heads the TV series, "Monk". Kerry Washington was in the indie film Lift (2001), and played the wife of Ray Charles in Ray (2004). Charles S. Dutton also directed this film. He was the title character in the excellent Fox sitcom, "Roc" (1991-1994).


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