DVD: Resurrecting the Champ (12)

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The Independent Culture

"A writer like a boxer must stand alone," Josh Hartnett's Erik Kernan portentously narrates at the start of this 2007 drama, which failed to merit a UK cinema release.

Hartnett's "careless" sports reporter for The Denver Times comes across three young jerks beating up a hobo (Samuel L Jackson) – obnoxiously claiming they've beaten "The Champ".

Erik's copy is "unimpressive" and "lacks personality" and his editor, Ralph (Alan Alda, excellent), complains "I forget your articles as I'm reading them". So he's desperate to do a memorable feature and Champ, who claims he was almost heavyweight champion of the world in the Fifties, is his "ticket to the big time".

However, Jackson's sozzled old vagabond doesn't want to tell his story, until Erik pleads with him "that this article is my title shot". Yes, Resurrecting the Champ is really that hokey and nowhere near as affecting as The Soloist, in which Robert Downey Jr's hack discovers that Jamie Foxx's "bum" is a whizz on the violin.

However, despite its failings, most notably Hartnett's wooden acting and fight scenes that lack the intensity or authenticity of Raging Bull or The Fighter, this hackneyed TV-movie-style drama is also very watchable – and a plot twist provides a decent narrative about ethics in journalism, self-deception and slack fact-checking.

Plus, Jackson's battered pugilist is convincing. A guilty pleasure.

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