Against the Ropes is a 2004 American sport drama film. The film stars Meg Ryan and Omar Epps and was directed by Charles S. Dutton, in his motion-picture directorial debut.
The story is a fictionalized account of the American boxing manager Jackie Kallen, who was the first woman to become a success in the sport. Kallen has a bit part in the film, playing a reporter, and a few lines in the scene where the press interviews the principal characters.
Against the Ropes grossed less than $6 million in the US and was panned by critics, in part because of its resemblance to other boxing movies, such as the Rocky series. As with other such movies, its climax is a bout for the championship.
The film was shot primarily at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio, United States and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada at the Copps Coliseum.
At a young age, Jackie Kallen learns about boxing with her father and uncle in a small gym. Later, she becomes the assistant to a Cleveland boxing promoter. Her boss then begins doing business with Sam LaRocca, a sports manager, during a middleweight championship fight.
LaRocca asks afterward what she thought of the fight. Obviously unimpressed with Jackie's knowledge of boxing, LaRocca offers her the loser's contract for a dollar. She goes to visit the fighter at home, only to find him addicted to drugs.
Enter Luther Shaw, a small-time hood. Kallen watches in horror and fascination as Shaw pummels the former middleweight champ. She offers to manage him professionally. Shaw is at first hesitant, but he eventually signs on with her.
Because of LaRocca's influence, Kallen can't find Shaw a fight anywhere in Ohio, so the two are forced to go on the road until Shaw makes a name for himself. Jackie begins to get swept up in all the attention she gets for being the first female boxing manager. Her attention eventually shifts from Shaw to her own media persona as her fighter's number of wins continues to climb.
Finally realizing that she is not paying enough attention to her only client, Kallen agrees to sell Shaw's contract to LaRocca on the condition that he be given a championship fight. LaRocca agrees, setting Shaw up for a shot at the title before he could be ready. Kallen arrives at the fight and stands in Shaw's corner as he pulls off an upset and wins the championship.Meg Ryan - Jackie Kallen
Omar Epps - Luther Shaw
Charles S. Dutton - Felix Reynolds
Tony Shalhoub - Sam LaRocca
Timothy Daly - Gavin Reese (as Tim Daly)
Joseph Cortese - Abel (as Joe Cortese)
Kerry Washington - Renee
Sean Bell - Ray Kallen
Dean McDermott - Pete Kallen
Skye McCole Bartusiak - Little Jackie
Juan Carlos Hernández- Pedro Hernandez (Credited as Juan Hernandez)
Holt McCallany - Dorsett
Tory Kittles - Devon Green
Gene Mack - Kevin Keyes
Beau Starr - Corcoran
Jared Durand - Young Crisco
Diego Fuentes - Car Attendant
Angelo Tucci - Rex
Reg Dreger - Lonnie
Arturo Fresolone - Hernandez' Manager
James Jardine - Ring Announcer
Big Daddy Wayne - Stormy
Merwin Mondesir - Street Crony
Doug Lennox - Barrel Chested Man
Hayley Verlyn - Beauty with LaRocca
Moses Nyarko - Mouketendi
Aidan Devine - Crisco
Joel Harris - Mathias
Michael Rhoades - Mathias' Manager
Bruce Gooch - Pawn Shop Clerk
Arnold Pinnock - Heavyweight
Neven Pajkic - Heavyweight
Adrianne Keshock - Janey
Dov Tiefenbach - Organic Clerk
Jackie Kallen - Female Reporter (for 'Detroit Times')
Mike Kraft - Jacobs
John Christopher Terry - USA Today Reporter
Tamara Hickey - Megan the Reporter
Karen Robinson - Kimberly Insurance
Noah Danby - LaRocca Henchman
Rocky Zolnierczyk - Sands Fight Referee
Tracy Waterhouse - Receptionist
Michael Buffer - Ring Announcer
Neil Crone - HBO Commentator
Ray Marsh - Final Fight Referee
Jeff Ironi - Security Guard
Against the Ropes was a box office bomb, grossing only $6,614,280, with an estimated budget of $39,000,000. It opened up at No. 8 at the box office, grossing $3,038,546 in the opening weekend. The film was released on February 20, 2004 to 1,601 theaters (widest release) gathering an average of $1,897 per theater. The film closed its box office run after seven weeks, gathering a total of $5,884,190 from the domestic market and $730,090 from overseas for an international total of $6,614,280.
Critical reception of the film was negative. Rotten Tomatoes reports a "Rotten" rating of 12% based on 121 reviews and an average rating of 4.2 out of 10, summarizing it as "a bland, dumbed-down package of sports cliches." However, the film did receive some positive reviews; Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars out of 4, remarking:
"It works near the end of "Against the Ropes," a biopic about Jackie Kallen, who was (and is) the first female fight promoter in the all-male world of professional boxing. It works, and another cliche works, too: the Big Fight scene, right out of "Rocky" and every other boxing movie, in which the hero gets pounded silly but then somehow, after becoming inspired between rounds, comes back and is filled with skill and fury."