UPDATE: Rigged has since been changed to Fight Night — and it has an On Demand deal with Time Warner starting 2/5/2009. Check it out.
Rigged is a fast-talking, hard-hitting romp in the world of underground prizefighting. Allthough it is an indie, its larger-than-life characters and snappy dialogue remind me of quality B-movies set in the world of boxing like Body and Soul (a movie which inspired Raging Bull).
The terrific script, by Ian Shorr, lands some serious blows. Besides being riddled with great one-liners, it’s does a fine job of imagining original opponents for two memorable main characters to encounter. Dublin (Chad Ortis channeling Jack Nicholson), is a sleazy promoter who sees his big break in Katherine Parker (real life martial arts champion Rebecca Neuenswander), a waifish-looking girl who can throw a punch like a man. Finally, he can get the odds he wants without fixing the fight.
There’s a romance sub-plot — she’s a lesbian-in-denial, he thinks he’s god’s gift to women — that rings false. But the filmmakers otherwise manage to make these larger-than-life characters incredible lifelike. By the end of the film, I was cheering for them in the final fight.
Shot by Hanuman Brown-Eagle (d.p. for my short, Stull), Rigged has a great noirish look and some wonderfully kinetic fight scenes. The sound design is good, although I suspect a great many stalks of celery died to bring us the rather unreal punching sounds.
Overall, young director Jonathon Dillon has pulled off an impressive first feature. Considering what was achieved on this low-budget movie (he wouldn’t say how low), hopefully he’ll cash in his genre bona fides for better-budgeted but equally well-scripted second feature.
I saw the movie at a screening on the Fox lot, digitally projected from a D5 master. (I don’t know if someone had connections; apparently anyone can rent the Zanuck theater.) The original footage was shot with a VariCam, and they bumped it up from 720p to 1080p after color-correcting on a Smoke.
SEE ALSO: Trailer on YouTube