REVIEW: A FIGHTING MAN

CAST

Dominic Purcell (Legends of Tomorrow)
Kim Coates (Black Hawk Down)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine)
Adam Beach (Windtalkers)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Jenessa Grant (Reign)
Famke Janssen (X-Men_
James Caan (Elf)
Emma Campbell (The Woods)
Sheila McCarthy (Die Hard 2)

Sailor O’Connor (Purcell) is a retired Irish boxer, who has not once been knocked down in the 63 matches he’s fought. O’Connor’s mother Rose (McCarthy) is dying of cancer and Sailor wants to take her to Ireland one last time before she passes. After negotiating with Fast Eddie (Beach), a local promoter, Sailor secures enough money whether or not he wins. Though a long way from his prime, Sailor convinces his old training team Brother Albright and Max (Caan and Ironside) to get into shape for the bout against a younger opponent. A local priest, Father Brennan (Coates), tries to convince Rose to have Sailor back out of the fight, to which she says it’s up to him to leave.King Solomon (Smith) is a young upcoming boxer, seeking to earn a way out of the life he’s currently in. His girlfriend Peg (Grant) tells him she’s pregnant and Solomon wants to live a life with her. Quitting his life as an adult film actor, Solomon comes back to his old boxing coach (Gossett Jr.) and promises to stick with it and begins his training for the fight with Sailor. Solomon’s mother, a drug user and alcoholic, cannot cope with her son’s wanting to leave, and like his father, believes he will be back. Leading up to the fight, Sailor, Rose, Solomon, Father Brennan, and Diane Scheuler (Janssen), a recovering alcoholic, all attempt to overcome their demons. Diane attempts to ask Sailor several times for forgiveness for what she did to Sailor, and each time he rebuffs her. As the fight commences, both fighters do not show signs of giving up out of either stubbornness or motivation. As the final round comes to open, Fast Eddie offers up a large sum of money for either man to call it quits right then and there. Neither take it up on the offer and continue the fight. When the final seconds and punches hit, Sailor remembers his tragedy in which Diane killed Sailor’s wife and children in a drunk driving accident. Never knocked down and refusing to give up, Sailor stays up as the last round closes, and the two boxers congratulate each other. King Solomon is declared the winner of the bout and each man heads to the locker room. As Diane passes by Sailor, he tells her that there may be a way that he may forgive her some time in the future.Acting-wise you get quite a lot of good people in this. James Caan, Kim Coates, Michael Ironside and Famke Janssen to name a couple. Mostly they don’t share the screen together, but you still get the gravitas a movie like this needs. It’s nice storytelling, with slowly revealing/uncovering its layers. Not really surprising in the end, but still a nice movie to watch

 

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REVIEW: THE WOODS

CAST

Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate)
Emma Campbell (The Aviator)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island)
Lauren Birkell (Cast Away)
Rachel Nichols (Alias)
Gordon Currie (Puppet Master 4)

In 1965, after burning down a tree in her yard, rebel teenager Heather Fasulo (Agnes Bruckner) is sent to the boarding school Falburn Academy in the middle of the woods by her estranged mother Alice Fasulo (Emma Campbell) and negligent father Joe Fasulo (Bruce Campbell). The headmistress, Ms. Traverse (Patricia Clarkson), accepts Heather in spite of her father’s bad financial condition. The displaced Heather becomes close friends with Marcy Turner (Lauren Birkell), while they are maltreated by their abusive classmate Samantha Wise (Rachel Nichols). During the night, Heather has a nightmare of a student named Ann, covered in blood, and hears voices that seem to be coming from the woods. The next day, Marcy tells Heather that Ann was taken to a mental institution after attempting to commit suicide, and that she’d been covered in blood.
With the help of Marcy, Heather eventually learns to adjust to her new school, even having fun at times and making more friends. Ms. Traverse subjects Heather to special tests to see if she is “gifted,” telling her that it is all part of her scholarship to the academy. The girls tell Heather a spooky story about the history of Falburn, which includes three young redheaded sisters who arrived at the school and turned out to be witches, killing the headmistress before leaving to the woods. Meanwhile, Samantha continues to torment Heather, who comes to despise her and fights back. Ann returns from the mental institution, and Heather finds her one day, rocking in her bed. Ann reveals that she is afraid she will be taken by the witches. She says she is cold, so Heather climbs on a trunk to try and close the open window over Ann’s bed. A low fog rushes into the room and knocks Heather down, twisting her ankle, and she is taken to the infirmary. The next day, Heather finds Ann’s bed empty, her place filled with dead leaves. She witnesses the headmistress lying to the police about Ann’s disappearance, remarking that she is being taken care of.
This leads her to become suspicious and she tries to talk to Marcy about it. But Marcy acts strangely, and is shadowed by one of the teachers. Soon after, Heather finds Marcy’s bed empty and covered in leaves. Later, she is confronted in the woods by Samantha, who reveals that she has actually been trying to protect Heather with her antics. She tells Heather that the school is led by a coven of witches who want to take all of the girls away. Samantha explains that she has called Heather’s father to help her escape and that the milk is poisoned. The girls are both caught by a school mistress, who promptly takes Samantha away. Samantha is later found hanging from a long noose in the cafeteria. When a police officer comes to investigate, Heather tells him of the missing students. The officer confronts the headmistress, but she claims that the girls ran away. Another mistress “leads” the officer into the woods to find the girls, where he is killed by the living vines of a tree.
Heather’s parents show up to take her home, though the headmistress tries to persuade them otherwise. On the way home, their car is mysteriously flipped and Heather is knocked unconscious. Alice is dragged out of the car by a living vine and kicks Joe in the head, knocking him out. Heather and Joe wake up in a nearby hospital. Before they can reach each other, Ms. Traverse has Heather dragged away, then slits her own hand and forces her black blood down Joe’s throat, which puts him into a catatonic state. Heather returns to the school in despair. She drinks the milk that evening, but later vomits it back up, finding tree bark in it. Back at the hospital, Joe wakes up and vomits up Ms. Traverse’s black blood, which also has tree bark in it. He quickly escapes and goes to find Heather. That night, Heather begins to hear voices again, and when she attempts to leave, a living vine captures her.
When she awakens, she is wrapped in vines in a large foggy room, next to Ann and Marcy, who are also held captive. All of the teachers appear and reveal themselves to be witches. Ms. Traverse is their leader, and she explains that their spirits have been trapped in the woods all these years, and they need to inhabit the bodies of young women to escape their imprisonment. Heather appears to be the centerpiece of her plan because she has the strongest powers among the gifted students. Heather is coerced into completing the ritual, and the vines begin to mummify all of the girls in the school. Before it can complete itself, Joe breaks into the room with an ax and begins to kill the witches. Heather breaks free from the vines and grabs the ax, proceeding to chop all of the witches into pieces. Heather and Joe then leave with all of the girls, walking down the road into the daylight as the school burns in the distance behind them.
The end of the movie states that Falburn Academy burned to the ground in 1965, while the surrounding woods were strangely left untouched.
Sony have released some interesting films straight to dvd in 2006, but this film is by far and away the best, great acting, location, atmosphere, sound design and Bruce Campbell with his finest performance since Bubba ho-tep. Though it seems to have been influenced by films like suspiria and evil dead it is in no way imitative of either and I am willing to stake a large wad of cash that this becomes a true cult classic, though it deserves to be more popular than that!