Bullet Points: Uppercut Man
Look! Jogging over there! It’s a dude. It’s a guy. It’s Uppercut Man!
There are two things about 1988’s Uppercut Man that immediately caught my attention. First, the fact that it sounded like the worst name for a superhero movie ever. Second, the fact that the legendary Ernest Borgnine was on the cover.
But I would soon find out that while the movie did feature Ernest Borgnine as the cover promised, it was not a superhero movie at all but instead the story of a man and his dream…
- Sweet Science Dreams: Bobby Mulligan (Daniel Greene of American Tiger fame) has dreams of one day boxing professionally. Bobby trains at a local gym in Miami every chance he gets. When he is not training he is working at a bar to make ends meet or he is spending time with his girlfriend Anna (Keely Shay Smith). Anna is super supportive of Bobby’s dream, unfortunately for the happy couple Anna’s father Victor (Ernest Borgnine) is not supportive of his daughter dating someone involved in the dirty world of boxing. Bobby feels that Victor is being unfair but uses the desire to prove Victor wrong as extra motivation to chase his dream. But Bobby will soon learn that Victor is right about one thing… the boxing game is a dirty one.
- Chasing the Dream: Bobby learns from Larry, the owner of the gym he trains at, that the man that controls the boxing game in Miami is promoter and reputed gangster Martin Duranti (played by Giuliano Gemma). Bobby goes to Duranti’s home in hopes of speaking to the promoter, but is quickly turned away at the front gate. Bobby goes to his Plan B and hangs out in the parking lot of a nightclub that Duranti owns and frequents hoping to catch Mr. Duranti on his way out to get a word with him. Things don’t go exactly as planned… while Bobby is waiting outside, Duranti and his mistress/nightclub singer Gilda (Mary Stavin of A View to a Kill fame) get into an argument. Gilda storms out of the club and Duranti sends two of his goons out to retrieve her, when Bobby sees the men hassling the beauty, he intervenes and Gilda requests that Bobby drives her home. On the way to Gilda’s place, Bobby realizes that he is late for his job, but he also knows the bar he works at is no place for a lady, so Bobby asks Gilda to wait in the car while he works his shift but he’ll be sure to bring her a drink as soon as he can. Gilda gets tired of waiting and gets out of the car and that is when four thugs show up in a bedazzled Cadillac and more or less abduct her with some bad intentions in mind. When Bobby comes out to give Gilda a beer, he sees what is going on and takes out all four thugs including one that was swinging some nunchakus!
- Dreams Come True: When Martin Duranti learns of the way that Bobby handled the four pieces of street scum that tried to harm his lady, he wants to repay Bobby and soon Bobby gets what he has always wanted… his first professional fight. After an impressive win in his pro debut, the whirlwind begins for Bobby with talk immediately turning to Bobby getting a shot at the champion “The Black Panther” Ray Duncan. But is not all good news for Bobby… when he meets up with Anna to regale her with the tale of his big night he gets into an argument with Victor and things quickly get physical. Victor punches Bobby and starts slapping. When Bobby strikes back after several warnings and knocks Victor on his ample ass, Anna freaks out and tells Bobby she never wants to see him again… Next thing you know, Bobby is banging Gilda when Martin Duranti is out of town on business.
- The Dream Becomes a Nightmare: The old saying “don’t shit where you eat” came to mind as Bobby learned the hard way you can’t sleep with the boss’ woman and not expect some consequences. Instead of a championship match, Duranti wants Bobby to take a dive in a match with another one of his fighters named Eddy (James Warring of Bloodfist II fame). Bobby reluctantly agrees to take the dive, but when it comes time to actually do it, Bobby can’t and instead he knocks Eddy out and wins the fight. Now Duranti is really pissed and Duranti and his goons break Bobby’s right hand and then go out and kill Bobby’s trainer to seemingly put an end to Bobby’s promising boxing career. But just when it appears that Bobby has lost everything, he gains something… the respect of Victor. We find out that Victor also had dreams of being a boxing champion in his younger days and like Bobby, Victor had been asked to take a dive but couldn’t do it. The two now had common ground. And with Victor’s approval, Anna was now back in Bobby’s life.
As you might suspect the final act of The Uppercut Man focuses on Bobby (with help from Victor and Anna) recuperating from his injury, going after the championship and getting his revenge against Duranti and Duranti doing everything he can to prevent Bobby from getting the vengeance he craves. This is easily the most action packed portion of the film with a healthy dose of boxing action combined with the gun play, outside the ring fisticuffs and vehicular mayhem that action movie fans had come to expect.
And now for the Bonus Bullet Points that Bulletproof Action fans have come to expect…
- AKA: The Uppercut Man was first released around the world as The Opponent.
- If You Ever: …wanted to hear Ernest Borgnine call someone a “crumb bum”, then this is the movie for you.
- Reunited: The Uppercut Man reunited Daniel Greene with director Sergio Martino. The two had previously worked together in 1986’s Hands of Steel.
- If You Ever: …wanted to see a female bouncer dressed up like a Chippendales dancer, then this is the movie for you.
- Montages: There were three montages of note in The Uppercut Man. The first with Bobby training with Larry for his first pro fight. The second, a climbing the ranks of the boxing world montage. And finally a road to recovery montage with alternating footage of Bobby training with Victor and rekindling his romance with Anna.
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Daniel Greene run over by a car while jogging, then this is the movie for you. Also, what’s your beef with Daniel Greene?