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British Film Review: On The Ropes
Whenever watching films I sometimes suffer from what is called pre-film prejudices.
Unfortunately a lot of low budget films are badly shot and may have been better suited as a short, this is largely because the writing doesn’t seem to hold for the required 72 mins +. Also in particular, films such as On The Ropes, that are starring, written and directed by the same person are usually done so out of a lack of experience and therefor add to the poor quality.
Despite these initial worries, I managed to sit through On the Ropes not once, but three times. And this wasn’t due to a lack of understanding or because it is so bad that it’s a struggle to find the positives. Surprisingly, the film is actually a lot of fun.
On The Ropes tells the story of a documentary film maker covering the goings on of a ‘proper fighting gym’. Little does he know that events will unfold rather differently when his attention is drawn to a rival gym with a unique fighting style, owned by a self-professed karate expert.
The film follows a host of very interesting main characters demonstrating, without the need for spoon-feeding, a detailed look at the relationships that they share with each other. There may not be an obvious category to put On The Ropes into, but it’s really just a great film that tips its hat to documentaries, dramas and the egos of those that are part of reality TV.
Both lead actors Mark Noyce and Ben Shockley are very convincing in their roles. This is probably the first time that Shockley has had a role which has allowed him to push his potential, although this is mostly through the skills of Noyce and co-director Hamdy Taha.
Having mentioned previously that films that are starring, written and directed by the same person are usually a no no, with On The Ropes this is not the case. The direction of both the live venues and the actors is seamless and the interruptions by the ‘documentary team’ are not jarring but skilfully done and the film is shot well enough to be able to concentrate on the story and characters fully.
Unconventionally, the review of On The Ropes would not benefit from giving away anything else of the plot, rather, it would be best viewed in its full glory with little knowledge. Like most films of this sized budget, On The Ropes may not get the recognition or the audience it deserves, but should readers have the opportunity to watch the DVD or catch it On Demand then go for it, as it comes highly recommended.
Zachary Cooke www.thefilmfactory.org
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