There is no true story so interesting that movie can't reduce to a predictable set of familiar clichés, and Against the Ropes, a competent but by–the–numbers flick about female empowerment in the male–dominated world of sports, is the latest case in point.
The film, which marks the feature directorial debut of respected character actor Charles S. Dutton, is supposedly based on the life of Jackie Kallen, one of the first major female boxing managers, but the script seems to have been inspired by every movie ever made on the perils of following your dreams and finding success.
Meg Ryan, who has long tried to escape her romantic girl–next–door image, plays Jackie as a smart, tough, husky–voiced publicist who loves boxing and is constantly frustrated by the fact that the men she works for do not recognize her talents, let alone their reliance on the same. One night at the local sports bar, Jackie gets into a public argument with boxing kingpin Sam LaRocca (Tony Shalhoub), who dares her to prove that a woman like her can manage a boxer all by herself. To prove his point, Sam offers to sell Jackie the contract to one of his less impressive fighters for a dollar—and to his surprise, she accepts the challenge.
It turns out the fighter in question really is the write–off that Sam made him out to be; when Jackie visits his place, she discovers he's a crack addict. But then Luther Shaw (Omar Epps), an enforcer for a local drug dealer, shows up and beats the living tar out of him. Seeing this display of raw brute force, Jackie decides to make Luther a champion instead, and nags him into accepting her offer to be his manager. And to help transform Luther from neighborhood thug to prize–winning ...1
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