Sucker Punch Review

You know your movie is in trouble when Danny John-Jules gets top billing. If you don't know who that is, congratulations, you're not nerdy enough to be a fan of Red Dwarf, the BBC's long-running sci fi sitcom. In it, John-Jules played a sentient humanoid cat who dressed and talked like James Brown. For the most part it was more believable than this movie.

Sucker Punch is a remake of the Charles Bronson/James Coburn boxing movie Hard Times only in the way that a bunch of kids throwing rocks at each other is a remake of The Godfather. It has a dark horse fighter (Gordon Alexander) coming back into the London underground no-holds-barred boxing circuit, where he is soon taken under the wing of a sleazy fight promoter (John-Jules), who gambles away whatever they earn. The bad guy this time around is the beefy northern England UFC fighter Ian "The Machine" Freeman, whose calm menace gives this otherwise flaccid movie a bit of weight.

Of course, John-Jules is an interesting character, and though his acting leaves much to be desired he at least adds a bit of humor and verve, especially when playing against his second banana Weed (Jimmy Kent), who’s got a natural sense of timing. Gordon Alexander as the lead, however, is unengaging, unmenacing, and flat-out unlikable. To call his acting wooden would be an insult to some very expressive trees.

The visuals are especially bad, with half looking like it were shot with an actual budget and the other half seemingly shot with a cheap camcorder, without white-balancing, sometimes without even focusing. It goes from grainy to clear to fuzzy to brown in the course of the same scene.

The only thing that could and should save this movie is the fighting, which ends up being the biggest disappointment. It's slow and repetitive and unconvincing throughout. The hopes of an awesome end fight between Alexander and Freemen, pretty the only thing keeping me in my seat since about halfway through, are all dashed when we get there, leaving us with ten minutes of two tired, slow, sweaty dudes rubbing against each other and spitting fake blood on the floor.

Really the only other reason to watch this movie would be to catch Tom Hardy (Bronson, Inception) show up for one scene with a Scottish accent. His big line is "Pop the hood."

Wait, it's on youtube. Nevermind.

DVD Bonus Features

A making-of documentary that explains how the film took four years to make and yes, half was filmed on a cheap camcorder, at one point gaff-taped to some guy’s head (London steadicam). Also a number of trailers for other bad action movies.

"Sucker Punch" is on sale October 18, 2011 and is rated R. Action, Martial-Arts. Directed by Maciek Albrecht, Malcolm Martin. Written by Malcolm Martin. Starring Danny John Jules, Goldie Hawn, Tom Hardy, Gordon Alexander, Antonio Fargas.

David M. DeLeon • Staff Writer

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