Boxing has never been a particularly popular sport for me to watch. The boxing world has always seemed to be one of lies and politics. But on the other hand, I will watch with interest any movie that has boxing as a major subject. Rocky, Raging Bull, heck The Great White Hype are all fine examples of exciting boxing movies. That is why when I received Knockout with Steve Austin, my interest was peaked a little to say the least. Let us see how it goes.
Matthew Miller (played by Daniel Magder) chews his nails and doesn’t like the fact that he is in the middle of nowhere (Tacoma, Washington). His mother, Christine (played by Janet Kidder) gets after him for his nail biting and tells him that he had to drop out of private school and go to public school because times are tight. She does it in a rather melodramatic manner and it is no wonder that Matthew didn’t just punch out her lights right there. That would have been a boxing movie to be proud of.
Anyway, moving on. They arrive at Aldergrove Secondary (High School) for Matthew’s first day. An interesting point here is that the mother keeps telling him that it is going to be fine and then lets him out right in front of a high school gang. Way to go mom! Matthew walks into his first class which looks to be English. They pan around the classroom and we see a dude with a pink Mohawk and several females with various piercings. Is this high school or The Warriors 2: Back to Class?
Matthew’s first reading assignment is to read the book Metropolis. Metropolis? What school is this? First, you get to wear your clothes and hair however you want and then you get to read great science fiction classics like Metropolis. Awesome! Anyway, after the class is over, Matthew makes his first friends in the form of Nick (played by Samuel Patrick Chu) and the geeky but pretty Ruby (played by Emma Grabinsky).
Nick pushes Matthew into asking out the school’s most popular girl, Teresa Terrel (played by Tess Atkins) while Ruby doesn’t think he should do it. Matthew reluctantly agrees and asks Teresa out. She of course says no, and then local jock Hector (played by Jaren Brandt Bartlett) steps in and asks if Matthew is bothering her. She tries to play it off but Hector decides to push Matthew anyway and start a fight. It is quickly broken up and a janitor (played by Steve Austin) looks on in the distance.
The next day, Matthew is cornered by Hector and given the ole one, two but the janitor is there to save him. The janitor suggests that Matthew joins the school boxing club. Matthew is immediately interested since his grandfather was a former professional boxer and referee. His mother goes into more melodramatics (this is getting old quick) and gets Matthew to go along with the notion that the boxing club will just get him hurt.
Next day, Matthew decides to go to the club anyway. Of course, who is the star boxer of the club, well that would be Hector. Matthew decides this is too much but the janitor stops him before he can walk off. Soon, it is Matthew’s turn to take a shot in the ring. Against? Anybody? Anybody? Yep, Hector. Hector gives him quite a few shots before the coach stops the match.
However, right after the match, Matthew decides to throw another punch, a fairly stiff one at that. Hector starts pounding on him before a hard stop is achieved. The coach scolds Matthew for the late punch and tells him to never come back. Dejected, he sits on the bench until the janitor approaches him again. It seems that he is no ordinary janitor, in fact his name is Dan Barnes, a former heavyweight boxer. Maybe with a little help from this new found friend, Matthew can learn a little about life and how to box.
Honestly, reading the box and watching the movie for the first roughly twenty minutes, I wasn’t very impressed with the movie. However, in the last hour or so, the movie warmed me up and put out a lasting finish full of charm and more importantly heart. This is arguably Steve Austin’s best performance since he decided to hang up the tights and try his hand at movie stardom. He simply steals every scene he is in and plays the role of a quiet bad-ass to the absolute best you could ask for.
Daniel Magder also does a great job of evolving from the start of the picture until the credits roll. He becomes a man in a sense and with every turn he gains confidence and the character becomes more likeable. The rest of cast fit the bill well enough with Hector being absolutely despicable, Ruby being an absolute sweetheart, and the mother being a complete drama queen. Actually, truth be told I could not stand the mother and the less time she got on the screen the better.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation. I found the video fairly strong for a relatively small budget with good sense of colors and hardly any issues worth mentioning. One really doesn’t get a sense of Tacoma as most of the action is in-doors (actually you really only see the city in the opening). Darks are pretty decent, the only thing that unnerved me was that Steve Austin didn’t have his usual trademark goatee. He had a half (bottom) goatee which just looked a little bit odd and out of place.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English Dolby Digital (also included is 5.1 French, and 2.0 Stereo mixes for both languages. Volume was a bit soft and only once you turned the volume up quite a bit could you hear the dialog correctly. Sound effects are reserved to boxing gloves and other things commonly found in the ring. The track is adequate, it just doesn’t pack a punch. Okay, that was a terrible pun. No mention of subtitles, but there does appear to be closed captioning.
- Automatic Trailers: Freestyle and Kung Fu Master.
Also included is a trailer for the movie along with a digital copy (.M4V) that you can download right off the disc. Also of mention, there was a third automatic trailer but it had no sound and cut out half way through so I couldn’t identify it correctly.
It is a funny thing, when the movie ended I immediately had several ideas running around my head for a sequel. I knew exactly how to make sure the major players were still in the next movie and how to keep the huge heart the movie had alive. Will a sequel ever get made? Probably not, but I’ll go on record and say that it deserves one. This movie has a huge amount of charm in spades and keeps getting better every minute it is on screen.
Steve Austin steals every scene and Daniel Magder shows depth and growth as he matures throughout the movie. The video is above average and the audio is okay. The lack of extras was disappointing but I admit I selfishly wanted an Austin commentary (and if he had a 12 pack of beer by him as he watched, all the better). I give this film a solid recommendation. Look past the small budget, look past the first twenty minutes, and you’ll find a movie that will truly make you smile.