“FIGHTING TOMMY RILEY”–one not to miss

“Fighting Tommy Riley”

One Not to Miss

Amos Lassen

Rocky Balboa brought the fight movie to popularity so it only was natural that a gay themed fight film would soon emerge. “Fighting Tommy Riley” seems to be the result and it is a good one. Marty Goldberg (Eddie Jones) is a former boxer and a washed-up trainer. He is looking for his last hurrah and thinks he sees it in a new raw young fighter (J.P. Davis who is also the screenwriter). However the young man is harboring a pugilist strain and is a self-destructive. He also has a troubled past that could possibly cause his career to never get off of the ground. Both men are heavily laden with emotional problems and the first thing they must learn is mutual trust.

Even with its flaws this is quite a powerful movie. The friendship between the two men awakens truths about themselves and there is tension about the unrequited love between a handsome young boxer who desperately needs a father and a gay trainer undergoing self-torture. The beauty of the film is the way it honestly handles this situation. J.P. Davis gives a performance worthy of any award in acting. The film is scripted beautifully and all in all, this is quite an impressive film. Here we have a movie about two people who have never received the love they need and desire. The two men forge a sincere relationship founded on boxing and the reality of give and take between the two. The fact that Tommy, even with a million dollars resting on his fight, isn’t going anywhere is a testament to the bond between the two men. It was not about an older gay guy lusting after a younger straight boy. They two share a common goal and there sincerely wanted to be friends. Tommy eventually threw himself at his coach because he was afraid—afraid of being left alone by those that he cared about. Tommy was anxious to move ahead and he wanted to make sure that that the one person in his life that actually cared about him would not walk out on him. Maybe this was not the smartest decision he could have made but we see that most men are devastated by decisions they made later.

This is a gritty and honest film which deals wonderfully with a very sensitive subject. The screenplay is inspired and the characters are beautifully developed. It is a unique story which touches the viewer deeply and it is compelling. Marty, whose own career, has been destroyed by homophobia finds solace in the young handsome boxer, Tommy who needed a friend and a mentor. “Fighting Tommy Riley” affirms humanity and the positivity of contributions of those not valued by society. The power of positive motivation and affirmation used to heal past scars and the use of human potential can change society if we allow it to. The movie is not about boxing but about the interaction between people in their search for redemption. It is a beautiful movie and one that should not be missed.

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