Release Date: January 27th, 2006 by Touchtone Pictures.
The Cast: James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Donnie Wahlberg, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Roger Fan, Wilmer Calderon, McCaleb Burnett, Jim Parrack, Brian Goodman.
Directed by Justin Lin.
BASIC PREMISE: Jake Huard (Franco) trains at the Naval Academy in Annapolis while fighting in boxing competitions.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: James Franco gives a dry performance as Jake Huard, a young man who joins the Naval Academy against his father’s wishes. Once there, he immediately has his eye on beautiful sergeant named Ali (Brewster). Tyrese Gibson gives a decent performance as Lieutenant Cole who eventually becomes Jake’s boxing rival. The clichéd plot also involves Twins (Shannon), Jake’s fellow trainee from Arkansas who suffers from a weight problem. Twins is the only really likeable character. Unfortunately, the gradual romance between Jake and Ali feels too contrived. The only reason why they seem to be meant for eachother is because they’re both good-looking. Midway through the plot, Annapolis suddenly becomes a boxing movie where Jake (the underdog) most prove himself worthy to enter the Brigades boxing competition. The rest of the plot feels by-the-numbers as Jake buffs up and starts winning a few matches—the only thing missing is the song “Eye of the Tiger”. Will he win? Will he get the girl? Who cares? Screenwriter David Collard does his best to generate some tension between the trainees outside of the boxing ring, but not enough to make you care about any particular characters. A few surprise twists in the third act don’t help to refresh this unoriginal, unfocused, and predictable film.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The real message is the importance of never giving up on your dreams no matter what. Jake beats the odds by training extra hard and being persistent throughout. His relationship with his father has a very poignant moments, especially when he’s on leave. However, it doesn’t go far enough to be moving when his father returns to watch his fight at the Brigades boxing competition in the somewhat satisfying third act.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Predictable and too clichéd.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2
IN A NUTSHELL: A by-the-numbers plot full of clichés and a dry performance by James Franco.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "A" Menu