Hockey is one of my favorite sports. Unfortunately, figure skating is not. This actually paints an interesting parallel. How can two sports that both share skating on the ice cause love on one side and distaste in the other? It most likely stems from upbringing and society’s mainstream views on the two subjects. But what would happen if a hockey player came to the world of figure skating, would I feel different about the sport? Perhaps, but I would be more interested to see a film about it. Enter: The Cutting Edge.
The alarm sounds, Doug Dorsey (played by D.B. Sweeney) wakes up in a panic along side a girl with a heavy foreign accent named Lita or Rita or perhaps Anita (it is actually Gita, played by Nahanni Johnstone). Doug is #9 on the American Olympic Hockey team and is to be the next big thing in the NHL. However, at this point he is four hours late and must get dressed and off to the finals with the West Germans.
Kate Moseley (played by Moira Kelly) is working moves on the ice with her figure skating partner, Brian Newman (played by Kevin Peeks). They make a couple of mistakes and immediately Coach Rick Tuttle (played by Barry Flatman) chastises them for it. Kate mouths off at the angry coach and leaves. Her father, Jack (played by Terry O’ Quinn)tries to get her to apologize but Kate is having no part of it and leaves the ice with her bags for the day.
As Kate whips around the corner on her way out, she smacks right into Doug who is late for the game. The two have a brief war of the words before they depart to their next location. The hockey game starts and the puck drops. It should have been an easy game for the U.S. national team, however the West Germans are up by a goal in the third period. But the game is not over and Dorsey takes over the game and scores a goal to force a tie. However, as he scores the goal he is slammed into the glass and taken out. A mere helmet flies across the screen as we fade.
Meanwhile, we watch Kate and her partner Brian do their long program. The two are working together well until a brief moment where the couple has a fatal flaw and Kate falls to the ice. The 1988 Olympics are over. Kate Moseley has failed to win the medal with her partner in figure skating. Dorsey suffers a deliberating eye injury and now has a blind side which means he can no longer play professional hockey. The scene fades to black and we rejoin the story two years later.
Doug is still trying to play hockey. However, all of the professional teams know of his injury and refuse to sign him. The best he can do is a semi-pro team in his local town while he works at a steel mill. Kate has gone through more half a dozen partners in that time and has a new coach named Anton Pamchenko (played by Roy Dotrice). Anton is out of ideas for partners but then ends up on Doug Dorsey’s doorstep. Doug is not sure what to make of figure skating but decides to go anyway. From the moment Doug steps out on the ice and shakes Kate’s hand, they know their lives are changed forever. If they can just keep their personalities in check.
It is a romantic comedy, we know what is going to happen next. However, the fun from any movie of this type is the pursuit or getting to the inevitable. Thankfully, there is a lot of energy in this film. The dynamic and chemistry between Dorsey and Moseley is interesting to watch as Sweeney plays the jock who is a ladies man and Kelly plays the very cold and opinionated skater. They both do this quite well and they eventually soften to complete their story arc. It has good humor (the “toepic” line is infamous), and does not drift off into pointless side stories to keep the viewer from the action.
Roy Dotrice also does a fine job as the coach for the pair. Even though his dialog is limited, he does a lot with his choice words for the duo. The rest of the characters and actors all play their parts pretty well but understandably fade into the background. The only problem I had with a little bit was the ending. The big issue comes out great, however there is one little issue that never gets resolved that I still wish they would have finished one way or another. Does it ruin the film? Heavens no. But as a sports fan, I was irked by the lack of non-closure.
The video is in 1.85:1 widescreen presentation at 1080p resolution. The movie is nearly twenty years old and unfortunately I was fairly convinced it was closer to thirty by watching the proceedings. Color is pretty decent when it comes to flesh tones but the background is full of grain and even a little haze at some points. The print will do the job for casual viewing (this blu-ray is probably better than the dvd though) but chances are very little restoration was done for this production.
For the audio portion, we get a 2.0 DTS-HD track for English (also included is 2.0 French and Spanish Dolby Digital Surround). Sound fares a little better. The 2.0 track is excellent on dialog and there are hardly any issues at all. However, I did feel that there was very little depth to the audio. Surrounds are minuscule except for the occasional “cut” of the ice. The track is decent, just for any movie that focuses around sports (even figure skating) you expect more. Subtitles are also included for English SDH, French and Spanish.
Notes: By the way, if you are not familiar with how lazy this and many other Fox catalog releases are, let me educate. The movie autostarts immediately (which to some is a good thing I suppose) and when you hit menu, you get the most awful grey bland menu you could ever ask for. Oh yeah, and an eco-case to store it in. I am glad that Fox is releasing these titles on blu-ray, however they could put some work into the presentation.
Interestingly, this film spawned three sequels. However, the sequels did not occur until fifteen years later and were basically vehicles for ABC TV Family Films. Thankfully, the original is an excellent romantic comedy (words that rarely come out of my mouth) and even a decent sports flic. Sweeney and Kelly do a fantastic job and drive the characters home with chemistry and genuine feelings. The supporting cast, primarily Dotrice did also a good job to mesh with the two leads.
However, the disc is another catalog job from the 20th Century Fox production office. The video and audio is decidedly average and there are barely any extras to speak of. It is a little rough to review these titles from Fox’s vault because the company does not put much work into it. I recommend the movie, but if you grab the dvd in this case, I can fully understand. Perhaps in the future for some of these releases, Fox will change (at least slightly) the way they approach them.