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The Cutting Edge Review

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Spoiled-brat figure skating star Kate is without a dance partner with the olympic games fast approaching. At the last minute her coach comes up with an unlikely replacement, a college hockey player with no experience.

★★★★★

Set in the exciting world of Olympic-level figure-skating, this is the story of an ice maiden (Kelly) reared from birth by her driving father — Terry O'Quinn of the Stepfather films adds a nicely creepy touch in the role — to be a champion, but constantly let down because she’s such a bitch that no one wants to be her partner.

While, on the other side of the tracks, a macho jock (Sweeney) invalided out of professional ice hockey career is recruited by Kelly’s paternal Russian coach (Dotrice) to team up with her. The result is that they hate each other on sight but develop into a potentially winning team, and, in between being unpleasant to each other, fall in nauseating lurve, while the tension builds up as to who is going to win that Olympic gold medal in the finale and whether the leads will be able to hold off strangling each other in time for the big last-minute clinch.

Given that nothing about the film suggests the screenwriters have done anything but throw sports movie and mismatched couple clichés into a pot and boiled thoroughly, it is hardly going to come as a surprise that our heroes win through. Sulky-lipped low-level brat packer Sweeney — still waiting for a career after Eight Men Out and Memphis Belle — and shrill, annoying Kelly — whom you’ve forgotten was in Billy Bathgate — try their best to enliven excruciatingly silly dialgue, and do a marginally more convincing job on the nasty wisecracks than the sentimental stuff, but they would probably have done best to follow the example set by Dotrice, who just hides behind daft mannerisms and camps up the whole charade.

Directed by ex-Starsky Paul Michael Glaser, with a dignified middle initial, The Cutting Edge really falls down because it’s obvious that Sweeney and Kelly can’t skate for toffees, so all the on-ice sequences, choreographed by medal-winning Robin Cousins in an only-job-he’s-fit-for turn, employ doubles and tricky editing, which means that the big climactic struggle on the ice means precisely nothing because it has to be literally skated over. In the past, movies like Smile (beauty contests), Downhill Racer (skiing), Breaking Away (cycle racing) and The Hustler (pool) have shown dull-ish competitive events could make for riveting film drama, but this just makes a late-night TV time-waster seem even more boring.

If there were a special Academy Award for Contrived Premise, this picture would be a hot favourite to scoop the statuette.