This film is far better than I had expected it to be. At first glance this appears to be a “anything boys can do girls can do better” diatribe. It’s not like that at all. The story is about a very tough girl named Diana, (played perfectly by Michelle Rodriguez) who gets herself involved in women’s boxing. Where many filmmakers would have fallen into yammering gender politics, writer/director Karyn Kusama offers a very human story that is very real and meaningful.
Although Karyn doesn’t know how to spell her name, she gets her story right. I appreciate it when a writer knows how to pace properly. Bad speller Karyn is thankfully in no rush to get her main character into the ring, which allows for more attention to be given the to subplots and other characters. This attention to the world that surrounds Diana (the main character) breathes a life into the piece that really makes this film special.
Speaking of special, Michelle Rodriguez was born to play the role of Diana. She’s good enough in this film for the Academy to retroactively give her an Oscar for best actress. As much as I love the writing and directing, Rodriguez is stunning and carries the film. She is at once tough with a vicious anger in her eyes, but yet still beautiful. Rodriguez’s roles since this film hit have been primarily video game hack pieces (The Fast & The Furious, S.W.A.T., Resident Evil and Bloodrayne.) She has obviously been pigeonholed by her handlers into these tough chick roles based on her work in this film. I honestly think that if she was given a well-written dramatic role that wasn’t violence based, her career would flourish. She is a completely misused talent. Mark my words, keep an eye on her. Once she puts the goofball movies away and starts acting, her career will skyrocket.
This is a great sports film as well as a very sturdy romance. I recommend this movie to both genders. It will speak to women on many levels, but guys will get something from it as well. This is one of those gems that get buried in the mass of DVD boxes off the new release shelf at video stores. If you come across it, rent it.