Strength And Honour

Strength And Honour


Reviewed by: Darren Amner

Strength And Honour is a story about love, sacrifice and hope and devotion set against the violent, underground world of bare-knuckle boxing. Sean Kelleher (Michael Madsen) used to be one of the best Irish American boxers around until he turned his back on his fighting career.

After accidentally killing a friend in the ring he promises his wife he will never box again, however, years later he discovers his son is dying of the same heart disease that killed his wife and is forced to break his promise and step back into the ring to raise the substantial funds needed for the surgery that could save his son's life.

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Michael Madsen used to be great; this role could have been a way of redeeming himself for appearing in some pretty shoddy productions in the last few years. His character is a devoted dad and it's a role that allows for him to be seen in another light other than the stereotypical chain-smoking bad guys he's carved a career out of playing.

The problem is screenwriter and first-time director Mark Mahon's film is so mind-numbingly dull that nothing can redeem it. Madsen's performance is not bad, but it is decidedly adequate, much like a lot of his work lately - which is sad to say as I'm a big fan of his early stuff.

The press notes indicate that at one point Mickey Rourke was considered to play the role of Smasher O'Driscoll, a part which ultimately fell to Vinnie Jones. I bet Mahon is kicking himself now because Rourke is getting a long overdue career resurgence courtesy of the similarly themed The Wrestler and he would have brought some real quality to this role. Although Jones succeeds in being menacing and intimidating, his acting is, as always, one-dimensional.

Mahon's film is visually bland, motionless and redundant - the fight scenes should be the most exciting scenes in the film but this is more raging dull than raging bull. A few choice pop tracks lift the tone slightly but that's not enough to pull you into the scenes which should be emotionally uplifting.

The script is sentimental for sentimental's sake, and as predictable as punch on the nose from a prize fighter. Strength And Honour has garnered quite a few Awards stateside, which is a big shock for a film that is on the ropes almost from the start.

This is no Rocky style inspirational story; the only inspiration that can be taken from this is it has quite a short running time. Strength And Honour is a total washout - not knockout.

Reviewed on: 21 Oct 2008
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Strength And Honour packshot
A bare-knuckle boxer is forced to step back into the ring.
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Director: Mark Mahon

Writer: Mark Mahon

Starring: Michael Madsen, Vinnie Jones, Richard Chamberlain, Patrick Bergin, Luke Whelton, Michael Rawley, Gail Fitzpatrick, Pat Shortt, Finbar Furey, Sheridan Mahon

Year: 2007

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Ireland


CFF 2008

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The Backyard
The Wrestler