The Opponent (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

We've all seen the story a zillion times before.

A kid, down on his luck and from the wrong side of the tracks, finds in boxing a way to gain some self-esteem and break out of a dead-end life. Oh, sure, at first he thinks that boxing is just a street fight, so he loses his temper and makes himself vulnerable. As time goes on, however, with the help of a wise and kindly trainer who tells lots of stories about the old days, he manages to crawl his way up the mountain and get a title shot.


Eleniak does a dark sex scene in which her nipple barely sneaks into the shot a couple of times.

In the meantime, greedy promoters try to make a profit off his talent, blah, blah, blah.

The difference is that this particular film is about a woman, so you'll have to change the pronouns from feminine to masculine in the plot summary above. And so, of course, she has additional complications:

1. she wants to get back at her abusive husband

2. she falls in love with her kindly, wise trainer

Well, now that I think about it, I think that Kindly Old Mick and Rocky might have had something going as well. And maybe Paulie was in there as well, in the world's most disgusting (and least articulate) menage-a-trois.

The star of this film is Erika Eleniak, former Rabbitmate of the Month in the late 80's and later a Baywatch babe. You know what? She does pretty good. In fact, she does damned good. I was shocked and impressed. Her acting has improved to the point where it is completely credible, and she seemed to be doing the right stuff in the ring as well. In addition, she really trained to develop the right body for the role. I suppose her breasts are probably too big for the ring, but the rest of her was lean, hard and narrow. She looked like a real athlete in the film, skipping rope with her veined arms and her narrow, almost manly hips.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no meaningful features

If you have seen a lot of boxing movies, you'll find this one completely unoriginal except for the gender swap. In addition, the director is inexperienced, and they had no money to put it all together. But it is a lot better than you think. It is, in fact, totally watchable. Everything in the film is competently performed and structured, the acting is solid, and I actually enjoyed it, even though I could just about mouth the words of the usual boxing plot along with the actors. The guy who played the abusive husband was more than just a monster. His part was written to be refreshingly complex, to show the behavior of a real blue-collar guy with some issues, a guy with a good heart in some ways, but with a major problem. And when Eleniak gets a chance to bust his ass, she doesn't.

This film won't go anywhere, I suppose. It made a couple of film festivals and then went straight to vid,  but the people involved, including Eleniak, have demonstrated that they can deliver the goods.

The Critics Vote

  • no major on-line reviews

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers say 6.9 of 10
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. A surprisingly good genre effort, the only weakness being that it is the same script as all other boxing movies in the past, except with a female boxer. (Tuna: C, "Eleniak is believable, and is in great shape. It is a solid sports story, but reveals no great truths, and covers no new ground".)

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