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Movie Review: The Challenge

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B-movies are films where the vision of the crew exceeds the financial budget. This low-budget flick shows a world not often seen — underground fighting. It stars Tim Scanlon, who also directed it.

Scanlon spent eight years in Hollywood as an production assistant, set dresser, and stunt man before he turned to directing and acting. He worked on or acted in the following B-movies: L.A. Wars, The Legend of Alfred Packer, and two of B-movie king Don "The Dragon" Wilson's films, Red Sun Rising and Cybertracker. The original soundtrack – twangy steel guitars alternating with a sultry sax – is by Evan Knight, Steve Schad, and Tim Schad. Even if you do not enjoy boxing, the theme of the fallen hero grabs your attention. However, in this story, the self-destructive nature of the fallen hero blocks his redemption.

The film is set in Syracuse, New York, where Patrick O'Reilly (Scanlon) is the champ. He is a former legitimate boxing champion who fell into disgrace and now fights in the underground, where high-stakes betting is the name of the game. Although he is in great physical shape, he is a smoker. And he fights dirty.

The first fight is well-staged. Rhythmic, ethnic-sounding music accompanies the action. The crowd waves money around while managers collect bets. O'Reilly knocks out his opponent, and then complains about his take. Local gym owner Ray Rinaldi (who plays himself) is at this fight, looking for a hungry fighter. His partner, Mitch O'Malley, thinks he sees this fighter in O'Reilly. O'Malley brings the fighter back to the gym for disciplined training.

O'Reilly has an opportunity to fight with a legitimate champion, Rinaldi's grandson Damien. But O'Reilly maintains his outlaw stance through the end of the story.

You may purchase a copy of the DVD at the director's website, Scanman Productions.

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