Judge David Johnson is a bare knuckle champion. You don't want to know what he means by "bare knuckle."
No fear. No mercy. No gloves.
What do you do if you're a cocktail waitress struggling to make ends meet and you're single and you have a special needs child at home and your mom is a nagging harpy? If you're Samantha (Jeanette Roxborough) you get involved in an all-female mixed martial arts circuit and make some easy cash.
First thing to do, hook up with a manager who believes in you. That man is some guy whose name I can't remember, but he's played by Martin Kove (The Karate Kid), which is kind of awesome. Together, teacher and protégé storm the world of female hand-to-hand combat and even when no one thinks Samantha has the skills to reach the top, she proves them wrong by, of course, doing just that. And then the credits roll.
Predictable and dopey from start to finish, Bare Knuckles offers absolutely nothing that you haven't seen before. Think of it as a combination of a Lifetime original movie and every Jean-Claude Van Damme movie ever made. Or at the very least the genre clichés found in them.
Look, I'm all about a strong female action protagonist, but our heroine thing go-round just isn't very interesting. And while it's easy to get behind a mom who's pounding in faces to support her kids, the execution in Bare Knuckles was low-grade enough to dilute any coolness. Add to that the total lack of suspense and full-on embrace of formula; it would take a momentous effort from the action choreographers to keep the enterprise afloat.
Not happening. The bouts aren't bad and Roxborough and her opponents have obvious physical skills, but there just aren't enough interesting smackdowns to keep the film from escaping the Abyss of Forgotten Mediocrity.
Image's screener is as low-impact as the film: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 stereo, no extras.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
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