Blonde Fist Review

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A single mum from Liverpool becomes a female boxer.


Taken as a "high concept" movie, there's quite a bit of potential in the casting of Margi Clarke as a put-upon Liverpudlian single mum who falls back on the only skill she has, fighting. After a spell in prison for abusing her worthless boyfriend's new girlfriend, who happens to be the DHSS official responsible for losing her giro, Ronnie O'Dowd (Clarke) turns her disastrous life around by going to New York to reunite with her drunken dad (Hutchison), and finds true happiness by working out her frustrations in the boxing ring.

Frank Clarke, doomed to spend the rest of his life as "the man who wrote Letter To Brezhnev", here at least improves on his directorial debut, The Fruit Machine, but Blonde Fist still stumbles around its promising subject matter. It takes well over an hour of screen time to get Margi into boxing gloves, and the lead up story is pretty standard "werking class Liverpule" hijinx, hopping from disco to open prison, with lots of would-be endearing secondary characters (many played by performers whose surname coincidentally happens to be Clarke) getting in the way of the story.

Margi is certainly the British cinema's leading purveyor of anal insults ("what are you gonna do for a face when Jabba The Hut wants his arse back?") but scene after scene of her, and most of the rest of the cast, threatening to insert cruise missiles into each other's back passages gets a mite wearing. Whenever the fighting starts, the film perks up, but although the two unofficial bouts in the early stretches of the film - with the blowsy mother of a local bully and a whale-like prisonyard tyrant - are value for money, the two real boxing matches that provide a much delayed climax are less effective, not because they aren't well shot but because Margi's opponents are characterless ninepins. The big fight finish, which features drunken old Dad turning up to give support in the most thrown away emotional reverse in the film, is a formulaic and guessable affair.

As Film Four productions go, this is a lot less cosy and polished than most, and even displays occasional signs of life, but it's still a lop-sided, protacted and ultimately disappointing experience.