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:: Shiner

It’s time to visit and experience London’s gangster underbelly as Michael Caine stars as dodgy boxing promoter Billy “Shiner” Simpson. He has a tendency to throw cash around and pushes his boxing son Eddie “Golden Boy” Simpson (Matthew Marsden) into the deep end of a championship fight. Billy stacks his reputation and finance against Michael “Mikey” Peck, a noted and fierce-looking American fighter. The sharp Frank Spedding (Martin Landau) promotes Mikey.

There are high expectations for Eddie; perhaps too high, but it seems that Billy thinks he is good enough for allcomers, and his years of pushing underground fights and chasing criminals could be over. He is set for the big time. Billy’s life has been miserable and we even see the police start to close in on him for other questionable activities. The American contingent arrives on the morning of the fight expressing disdain and displeasure for the arrangements and conditions of the event.

Even though boxing films usually raise my interest,. This story is patchy because the first half draws you into the pre-fight hype and preparations. Later the film loses its inspiration and depth to what could have been.

There are some uneven moments and the fight scenes don’t inspire as they should. After the fight is over and Eddie loses, the film’s plot turns to Billy thinking that his son had been “got at” and seeks revenge. We see brutality and grisly scenes but the logic behind it all is lacking and there is some sloppy direction.. Emotional realities aren’t well highlighted, especially after a tragedy occurs for Billy’s family. The great battle-hardened British films of the past offer much in character depiction but this falls short somewhat, despite the potential to give it depth

However, Michael Caine, as Billy, plays the role with strong intensity. He is believable with the typical charisma and presence, as the over-ambitious promoter. The other characters around Billy don’t really provide the zest and appeal, even though Billy’s minders Mel (Andy Serkis) and Stoney (Frank Harper), who do the dirty work, actually provide some comic relief at times in their manner. Paul Grabowsky provides a jazz score that serves as a worthy accompaniment.

In promising much, “Shiner” doesn’t fulfil the expectations. But with Michael Caine’s considerable performance in his home territory, the film deserves a slightly better than average rating.

Screening at Hoyts Cinemas