Killer’s Kiss Review

So this movie mixes in boxing with romance which seems like a pair of themes that make sense but it’s rather short so there’s not much time for the boxing. The film has that odd vibe that is harder to get in a lot of newer films where it’s hard to say what the tone or style is as you’re watching it. At any moment you don’t know what’s going to happen. Are the characters going to die, is a serious fight coming up, is Davey gonna run away? You’re always left guessing which is good, but on the other hand I wouldn’t say that the cast is very likable at all.

The movie starts by introducing us to Davey who is a boxer that is really down on his luck. I mean he’s not even close to having a good time right now. He gets trounced by everybody and his family encourages him to retire. One day he sees the neighbor in the building across from him being attacked so he saves her and they decide to become a couple. Davey can’t tell if Gloria really likes him though or if this is just gratitude or a way to stay safe. Either way he doesn’t care because he finally has his special someone. Thing is, the guy who attacked her was her boss Vincent and he may not be done yet. Will Davey be able to protect her?

Usually making bad decisions is something that you would expect to see out of horror movies but the characters make quite a few of them here. First off, they decide Gloria should go get her final paycheck from Vincent as she quits…by herself. Why doesn’t Davey just go in with her? Lets think about this logically, it will be a lot safer if he’s around right? I mean he’d probably get bounced but you like to think that the odds are still better than just her going in.

It doesn’t make any sense to split up. Then after seeing that Vincent is still acting crazy…she goes back in for a second time when his lackeys say that the guy is sorry? Nah that’s a bit much there. Don’t put yourself in a situation like that, it’s just not the smartest course of action. Meanwhile Davey lets his guard down and has to chase some street punks so his boss ends up getting whacked for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thing is, he makes a big mistake as well.

So the two thugs show up and this is a fairly crowded street. The best thing to do would be to yell for help and make as much noise as possible. Instead he silently runs into the dark alley where they follow him and take the guy out. First rule of street fights like this is that if you want to survive, don’t go to a second location. Yours odds of survival are a lot lower at that point. It’s better to make a break for it immediately and if you die, then you die but at least it’s quick. Going somewhere secluded will rarely work out for you. Seeing him go somewhere where nobody was around just seemed like such a bad decision right from the jump. You can’t afford to do that.

Back to the main characters though, Davey also looks so weak. I get that he’s a bad boxer but he should be able to do something right? Instead he barely holds his own against Vincent and has some of the slowest reaction times out there. He should have had an easy time of winning this, particularly as he had the element of surprise early on during the fight. Unfortunately he doesn’t trust his fists enough to go for the knockout blow. Even worse is when he has the villains at gunpoint. There’s no way he should lose there but of course he lets his guard down and that’s it.

There were 3 of them there so they basically startle him and then overwhelm the guy. Look, that should still be no problem when you have a gun but if it is, shoot the legs or something. Honestly it’s life or death so you can also bump off two of them to make things easier. At this point it’s all self defense since you are in such a critical situation. Know your limits and act accordingly but getting knocked out when you’re the one with the gun? That’s not going to fly over very well.

As for Gloria, well like Davey she made a lot of dicey decisions throughout the film. By the end it was also hard to trust her with how she tried going back to Vincent. Her life was at stake so you understand why she made the move and she might not have meant it but afterwards it’s really hard to trust her at all. So the end of the film doesn’t come across as wholesome at all and instead it makes you shake your head a bit. What is truth and what is fiction? It’s just hard to know and you don’t feel like these two are going to have a good ending.

Of course the villain Vincent is awful. Villains with that motivation where they just want the girl never turn out to be good. They just come across as whiny and annoying the whole time. He can’t take rejection at all and wants to take it out on her. It’s a bad look no matter how you slice it. That’s why the cast here is on the weak side. I didn’t end up liking anybody here. Everyone was annoying and made the worst choices consistently. If they did things logically then there might have been no problems or at the very least the problems would have been resolved a lot quicker.

On the positive side, the film is quick with solid pacing so it never drags on. I thought the writing was fairly good as well. The script was solid at least even if the decision making was not on point. I actually think the film would have benefited from Davey not being a boxer because it would be easier to see how he was getting rocked at every corner. There ultimately isn’t any real reason to check this one out though. You could watch almost any other one of the big boxing movies and have a better time. This just doesn’t add much to the equation.

Overall, Killer’s Kiss is a movie that I would consider to be below average. I wouldn’t recommend watching it. There are just way better movies to watch and all of the characters will annoy you here. For once the heroes should have the advantage throughout the movie and squander it each time. Look, just leave without the check and call the cops to go and collect or forget about it entirely. Fire the gun right away and there’s no issue and whatever you do, don’t run into a dark alley when you’re being chased by thugs. If any of those elements were removed then the villains would have been doomed. Really makes you think.

Overall 4/10

Megalo Box 2: Nomad Review

It’s certainly been a long while since Megalo Box season 1 but it’s time to dive back into the boxing arena. The first season appeared to have a definitive ending so it would be interesting to see how this continued the saga. In theory Joe may not be able to fight quite as well as he once could. Well, the show is definitely less of a boxing anime this time and deals more with some fallout that occurred after season 1. It works well as a sequel and while it doesn’t quite match the exciting first season, it’s a solid continuation.

The show starts with a time skip and you are left to figure out what is going on as the show gradually lets you know what is going on. Joe is back to fighting in underground matches only he has now become addicted to drugs and is a shell of his former self. His friends are nowhere to be found and Joe is really coming close to death. Well one day he beats a man named the Chief but is upset when he learns that the match was fixed. (His one condition in every fight is that he doesn’t participate in fixed outcomes) The Chief is the leader of a community of immigrants that are in a bit of a rough patch now because corporate is trying to seize their land. The only way around this is for the Chief to win the big Megalo Box tournament coming up. As Joe begins hanging around this group he starts to remember what it’s like to be a part of a family and offers to help. Still, the drugs have done significant damage to his body as well as the attacks he has endured over the course of the other battles. Has he made his realization too late?

From the two arcs in the season this one is definitely a lot more on the low key side. There isn’t a lot of action here and Joe is serving in the role of coach rather than being the primary boxer this time. His body is so beat up that even coaching is difficult as it’s hard for Joe to stay in for the whole round. He’s used to being the boxer that everyone is cheering against and so he can help Chief get past this as well.

The most annoying character in this saga is definitely Maria’s brother Mio. Mio ended up joining a gang to help take down his own town. The character arc here is that Mio is ashamed of his own heritage and figured he could join the other group to save himself. It’s really a sad arc that he would go so far. He sees the light by the end but he just goes so far in this that it’s hard to really sympathize with him. He really put a lot of people in jeopardy with his underground dealings.

Mara was good though, she was quite resolute in finding justice. She helped Joe get back to his feet and made things right by fixing his bike. When she finds out about Mio’s double dealings she takes it in stride and does her best to protect him while also helping out the village. She’s probably the only person the Chief can really count on. As for the Chief, he’s one of those characters you’ll like right away as well. He’s doing his best to protect the village on his own. Not in a selfish way like he doesn’t trust the others but because he has the best realistic chance of protecting them all. He knows if he can just win this tournament everything will be okay.

The Chief does well and certainly fights as best he can in the tournament. The whole time you’re hoping Joe will step in and get some action but a fight scene is a fight scene. It’s still fun to get some boxing in. As a first arc it helps set the stage for Joe’s recovery as this gives him the courage to go back to his home town and settle things with the ungrateful kids hanging around. While everyone being against Joe is really annoying, I would say that the second arc is a big step up.

So we finally learn more about why Joe ran off and nobody likes him. Nanbu was seriously ill as the cigars, beer, and everything had taken their toll. There was a slight chance a medical operation could save him but it was a ton of money and still offered no guarantees. Joe decided to enter one more tournament even though he should not be fighting anymore and told Nanbu to hang on. Unfortunately they both lost their fights. Joe lost to Liu, a new up and coming boxer while Nanbu lost to his illness. As a result, Joe wasn’t there when he died so Sachio and the rest of the town blames him for this. Joe just ran off at that point and never looked back.

So after we get all of the pieces to the story, whose side am I on? Definitely not Sachio’s! I’m definitely with Joe here. Look, it was a tough decision, he could have given up from the start like the rest and just let Nanbu die. Nanbu was fine with this since he had a complete life and sometimes it’s not worth doing a surgery that only might help you survive. Instead you decide to just live out the final days with family and friends. Here’s the thing though, Sachio was the one not satisfied with this at first. He keeps asking Joe if anything can be done.

So even though Joe and Nanbu had wanted to just give up, Sachio is the one who was not content. Joe did his research after that and met up with Nanbu for the other solution. Joe didn’t suddenly go and do this on his own, he first asked Nanbu for his permission and Nanbu said okay. They would fight one last time. Somehow this gets twisted into it being Joe’s idea from the start and when he loses the most important fight of his career, nobody is there to back him up. Joe is shamed for fighting and run out of town. It’s a really bad look not just for Sachio but the rest of the cast to be honest. They should have had Joe’s back since he was really trying to do the right thing.

This is a big part of the second arc. Joe has to deal with his feelings of guilt but the whole time I was on his side so it isn’t as tough a dilemma as you’re supposed to feel it is. I certainly lost all respect for Sachio who is now an underground fighter as well. The issue is that Sachio loses all of his fights since he just isn’t built for this kind of combat. It wasn’t the best career choice he could have made, that’s for sure. He’s an annoying character for the whole season so get ready to wince whenever Sachio is on screen. The other kids are better but I wouldn’t say any of them are good. The closest is the kid who became a reporter.

Aside from that plot, arc 2 introduces us to a guy named Mac. After suffering a devastating injury he nearly had to retire from the sport and was even close to death. Fortunately that’s when a scientist showed up and convinced Mac’s wife to let him use some experimental tech to get him back into living shape. This treatment worked so well that Mac was not only functional again but could be a champ. He beat many boxers to the point where he could just beat one or two more and be the world champ. The issue is that the tech seems to have a downside where he is slowly losing his mind.

He enters into a moment called “Mac Time” where Mac gets ultra aggressive and then doesn’t remember what he has done. It’s rather dangerous and his family is concerned but Mac also feels really grateful to the scientist so he’s a bit mixed about calling it quits. Throw in the new champ Liu who has a chip on his shoulder and Mac has to be careful when getting into the ring. Who will be crowned as the new champ or Megalonia?

This was definitely my favorite plot in season 2. The episode battle with Liu fighting Mac was excellent. The build up, presentation, soundtrack, etc. It was all on point and it also felt very nostalgic to hear the classic music and see the characters start fighting. There’s really nothing quite like having a big tournament match because you get the hype from the audience and everything else. It was well worth the wait without a doubt. Then we also have Joe get a final fight of his own near the end.

The final episodes of season 2 are the best ones in this season. We get a lot of action and the characters have mostly recovered from what they were going through earlier on so each character is at their peak. I was also glad to see Joe fight a bit more since I was worried he would be staying on the sidelines. It’s like if Rocky gets a new film, he may be so old that it’s hard to see him fighting but if you make a Rocky sequel then you have to squeeze in a fight somewhere. Joe still has some good moves and it feels like even with his injuries and age he could be the champion again if he wanted to.

Joe is still a solid lead here. He’s dealing with a lot of issues so he isn’t as good as in season 1 but he still has a lot of determination. He may have lost the big fight to save Nanbu but you can’t say that he didn’t try. His fight with Mac was also on point. Then you have Nanbu who we mainly see as a force ghost this time around. Due to that, he is one of the main antagonists here and doesn’t look nearly as good as he once did. He only pops up to insult Joe and make the lead feel bad.

Yuri doesn’t get much to do here since he is already retired but he is Liu’s coach so he has a bit of a role. I miss seeing him fight but he’s still a solid character. As for Liu he does really well in stepping into the rival slot. He doesn’t hold grudges when he loses and really just wants to be the best. He has a good dynamic with Joe so it would have been nice to have seen them fight further. His battle with Mac was also a lot of fun. Liu just continues to impress me with how professional he was about everything. Whenever he would suffer a setback or something would happen, he never blamed it on anyone else. He would just work harder and harder.

Megalo Boxing is incredibly risky after all. We don’t see a lot of injuries during the show but given that everyone is using super powered robotic arms for the punching, it makes sense that a single clean shot would do incredible damage. Liu just doesn’t blame anyone for it and goes into the rehab right away. Meanwhile Mac also has an emotional character arc and makes for a good character. It’s a good testament to the show when you like each combatant. You can easily root for either Liu or Mac when they have their big title match. Mac’s fighting for his family and Liu’s fighting for his honor. Both are valid reasons to root for each one.

I do think Mac should have stepped away a little sooner once he realized the damage Mac Time was doing but I don’t think he does anything too extreme. He just underestimated the possible damage it would cause. His wife still made the right choice in giving him the experimental tech. They have some regrets about how things turned out but the fact is that Mac would have been a vegetable otherwise so at least with this he can live. Whether he can box or not is a secondary concern at that point.

Yukiko doesn’t get a big role but her company is part of the big deal with the researcher (Sakuma) in charge of the experimental tech. She isn’t too quick to see the issues with this though. Part of this is due to Sakuma hiding the true results and also some willful ignorance on her part since the company really needed this deal. A whole lot is riding on it. Ultimately she does make the right decision here though and stops the bleeding.

Mikio deserves some credit for that as well since he went to a lot of effort to prove how bad this tech was. If not for him putting his career on the line to make that information public, Sakuma may have gotten away with everything. It would have been nice to have seen Mikio fight again but as a background character he did well in his role. I did not like Sakuma but that’s not too surprising. The whiny researcher types are rarely my kind of character. He tries to talk tough but as soon as he loses the advantage then he also loses his confidence immediately.

The animation is solid like in the first season. The battle choreography is on point and you feel the power behind each blow. The first season may still look a bit better with more iconic scenes like the rain battle and various tournament bouts but I would say by and large this matches the original blow for blow. Then the soundtrack is really memorable and has a lot of solid tunes once again. It’s not likely that you will forget the battle themes, lead up to the battle, and other really fun tracks like that. The opening leaves a lot to be desired with how quiet it is though. I think it went too far in being a very somber kind of intro. A little more action never hurts and it could have livened up the music a bit.

If we ever get a season 3 I’d like for the title to be more action focused again but all in all, the show did well for what it set out to do. It’s really about Joe post retirement as he ultimately gets to have one last big fight. With a lot of training he’s able to reach his season 1 form which is impressive since there was a bit of a time skip here. Season 1 ended in a way where you didn’t really think Yuri or Joe would ever fight again. That said, this does still take place in the future so it makes sense that you can push your body more with a lot of tech. If Yuri had been able to get up with robotic legs and fight that would have been crazy.

Nomad is more about the emotional angle though and it works well enough. Arc 1 was considerably weaker to me because there was not a lot of action though. Also both arcs had an annoying kid dragging it down so a sequel likely wouldn’t have that issue. There was a brief moment in arc 1 with a dead dog that seemed to have no real purpose but fortunately we see it alive in the climax. I like to think it was the same dog as opposed to this being a symbolic moment. That said, when you see the characters enter Megalonia one last time with all the bright lights and hype…that’s when Megalo Box is really back.

I just still don’t think Sachio had any kind of point here. While the issue is supposed to be more gray as opposed to black and white, I didn’t think so. Joe was just in the right here. Sure, he could have handled things differently but he didn’t take on the fight until he had both Sachio and Nanbu’s blessing. Sachio twisting this around to Joe being selfish just didn’t sit right with me. It really put a huge burden on Joe’s psyche as well. He just didn’t need any of that and certainly didn’t take it well. He nearly died and that would have been all on Sachio.

Overall, Megalo Box 2 is a good anime title. It doesn’t beat the original but the first Megalo Box would have to be the definitive boxing anime so it’s a hard bar to top. Whether you’re watching for the drama or the action you should have a good time. The show definitely steps up when we get to the final arc and I’d be game for a third season at some point as well. With quality writing and animation you can rarely go wrong. This one never veers off the cliff or makes any big mistakes. That’s why it’s also one of the first anime you’ll think of when recommending a title to someone who hasn’t entered that space. It’s very general audience friendly much like Death Note. That said, I would certainly recommend watching the first season first. This one may be separate enough where you won’t be lost but it does help to know Joe’s journey from before where this one started.

Overall 7/10

Southpaw Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

Southpaw is in a lot of ways a modern Rocky film. That said, as long as Creed exists we have a much better version of how to follow Rocky up. The fight scenes in Southpaw aren’t nearly as dynamic as Creed’s and the film goes a little too far in getting Billy to absolute rock bottom for his eventual climb back to success. This isn’t really a film I would recommend but it does have enough positives to keep it from being a bad movie. A sequel would have potential.

The movie starts with Billy becoming the world champion after another big win. His wife Maureen wants him to finally give up boxing though. They have a lot of money as it is and Billy is slowly taking more injuries with each battle. Billy agrees so he prepares a speech but when heading out he is confronted by an up and coming boxer named Miguel. Miguel baits Billy into a fight and during the scuffle one of Miguel’s minions fatally shoots Maureen. After she dies Billy’s life goes into ruins as he tries to end himself which results in his daughter being taken away from him as well. Billy’s also in danger of being bankrupt as he can no longer afford his lifestyle and mansion without money. His only choice is to get back in the ring once more but he’ll need a coach. Can he find someone to help him become the champion again?

So you can definitely see what the film is going for. Absolutely obliterate Billy’s life so then you can see him rise back to the top in order to set things right. The issue for any kind of adventure like this though is if you go too far in blowing up his life then even the climax won’t be as uplifting because there is no going back. That’s basically what happens here. For example, Maureen’s death is a big one. It’s not like she can come back to life so no matter what he does, that’s it. I think a better way to handle that plot would have been to have her get seriously injured or something and he doesn’t have the money to pay for her bills. That leads him to need to become champion again or win some more fights.

Something like that would still allow for almost all of the other big plots to continue. The only exception would be Leila’s story which would definitely need to be retooled a bit. It’s not as crushing a twist as having her die but that just felt unnecessary. Maureen was a fun character so it’s too bad that she got written out so quickly. Billy’s a bit of a tough character to root for most of the time. She helped steer him in the right direction but it’s clear that without her he wasn’t in nearly as good a spot as he once was. He blows up at his own friends to the point where he pulls a gun on one of them. He’s not very co-operative with getting a job initially and doesn’t exactly set a good example for his daughter.

He makes so many mistakes throughout the movie that even when he eventually solves them, you feel like he went quite far. Rocky at his lowest never made these mistakes. Additionally, Billy’s highs aren’t as high as Rocky’s. Rocky’s montages still hold up exceptionally well even after all this time. Billy’s is good as well but it’s clear that it isn’t even in the same league. The song isn’t as memorable and it just doesn’t have as much energy.

Leila’s a kid so it’s hard for her to process all of this of course but she’s not a very fun character most of the time. She definitely doesn’t make things any easier on Billy. Her worst scene is probably when she begs everyone to let her watch his big fight and then has a hard time watching because of how violent it is. That’s exactly why they were warning her not to watch it. Angela was a solid supporting character though. She’s the child services agent in charge of this case and was reasonable the whole time. She did seem to care about making sure Leila was doing well here.

Then you have the villain Miguel. There’s not much to him other than the fact that he fights dirty and likes to egg his opponents on. It wasn’t exactly hard for him to bait Billy into a match. He can fight really well so he’s not all talk but he definitely made sure to be as unlikable as possible. There’s just nothing nice about the guy or charismatic unlike someone like Apollo. Miguel’s fairly one note but his role in the film isn’t nearly as big as you might expect so it’s not a big deal. Finally we have Tick who ends up training Billy for the big fight. He’s a fun enough character and helps to set Billy straight on some things. You can’t win tournaments without a quality coach after all.

The fight scenes are pretty good. Southpaw is clearly going for a very realistic feel so you don’t have the dynamic cuts and lighting as other boxing films. I’ll admit that I miss those since these can’t standout as well without them but by and large I have no complaints with these scenes. You can definitely feel the intensity behind each swing which is the important thing at the end of the days. It also fits in with the rather gritty nature of the film.

Southpaw’s dark outlook can only take it so far though. You’d be hard pressed to call this a fun film. It tries to balance out being an uplifting film with giving Billy a new setback every few minutes so by the end of it you’ll be more exhausted than hyped. Maureen’s death was really my biggest issue with the film but other small scenes like Billy pulling a gun on his friend and threatening to murder him don’t help matters. You’ve got Billy’s suicide attempt as well and the film took the notion of “rock bottom” a little too far.

Overall, Southpaw will serve as a quick fix if you need to watch a big Boxing film while we wait for Creed III. That said, I would just recommend watching the Rocky films again instead. Those are just a lot of fun or check out the two Creed films if you haven’t already. Southpaw doesn’t do anything better than its rivals and as a standalone film it just barely manages to break even. The script isn’t great and there isn’t much replay value but I still wouldn’t call this a bad film because it has enough strengths in the fight scenes to keep it afloat.

Overall 5/10

Million Dollar Baby Review

It’s time for a film about boxing. There have been quite a few good ones over the years like Rocky and Creed. Those did a good job of delivering some pretty hype fights with epic storylines. Both of them will not be forgotten anytime soon. This one started out like it was going to be another one of the greats. Unfortunately it flew off the rails towards the end and ruined any potential it might have had. The first 2/3 of the film is quite good but the final part definitely destroys the film. That’s why they say a good ending is important. You can start off quite amazingly but if you trip over the end that’s what you will be remembered for.

The movie starts with Frankie winning more fights as the manager of a top ranked fighter Willy. Unfortunately his boxer eventually leaves him because Frankie never let him compete in the title matches. Frankie is now without a boxer. Meanwhile a girl named Maggie has started showing up as the gym and is determined to make Frankie her manager. He’s quite reluctant as he’s never coached a girl before and doesn’t want to start now. Still, she gradually weakens him and he starts to warm up to the idea. Still, a part of him is worried that this is a bad idea and he doesn’t want to have any more regrets.

There aren’t many big characters in this film but they all had to deal with a lot of issues throughout the film. Frankie has his own reasons for why he never lets his boxers attempt the big fight. His instincts are usually pretty good and it’s something that can come back to bite you. At the same time, it seems like this isn’t quite the right profession for him then. In boxing people are always going to get hurt so if you’re not prepared for that then you’re going to be in for a rough time. Frankie definitely plays the role of the angry coach who’s always got something stern to say. Deep down he’s a nice guy but it’s hard to get to that level. He makes for a good character though and a solid lead focus.

Then you’ve got his friend Eddie who does a lot of the work around the gym. He’s a lot quicker to give advice. Usually the other characters aren’t quite ready to hear what he has to say but he does his best. He has one especially good scene where he takes on one of the newer characters. He does pretty well and shows that he can still fight. He’s easily the nicest character in the film and I’d say that he steals the show. We all need an ally like Eddie. Someone who will have your back through the tough times no matter what.

Finally you have Maggie who really wants to be the world’s best boxer. She’s had a pretty tough life so far as her family turned out to be pretty toxic after her father died and she doesn’t really have anyone to support her. It’s been tough to make ends meet and boxing may be her only shot at a new life. She’s quite determined and that allows her to climb the ranks quite fast. Her technique is quite solid and she showed that she could hang with the best. Maggie takes all of the situations quite well and has some true grit.

While the film is focusing on the boxing it can be quite good. You really get to see proper footwork during the battles as well as the training you have to go through in order to get to the top. The characters are pretty solid and the pacing is good. The film would have been really solid if it had just ended with a slightly different outcome to the final fight or just cutting off at that point. Continuing further was ultimately a mistake.

I can’t really go much further into the ending because of course it’s a huge spoiler to the rest of the film. Needless to say, the movie decides to go for a lot of grit and dark themes towards the end. It suddenly stops being about boxing and becomes more of a tragedy drama where things continue to get worse and worse. The film doesn’t really leave any hope left and you’re just waiting for it to end at this point. The final act drags on for quite a long time. The film also randomly adds a backstory involving a dog dying and someone who was disabled getting beat up. It’s like the film suddenly changed gears and decided it wanted to be as mean spirited as possible.

Even the plot about Maggie’s family doesn’t feel truly necessary. I think the references from early on would have sufficed there rather than getting them involved. Even threatening Frankie at the hospital was a rather odd scene. I’m assuming after that Maggie told Frankie to leave for his own safety or at least I hope that was the case since it would seem out of character otherwise. Really what it boils down to is that the final act of the movie just wasn’t any fun at all. It crossed the line of getting a little too grim dark in what otherwise would have been a pretty solid adventure.

Overall, The Million Dollar Baby is a film that could not keep up its momentum. It built up a pretty solid plot with some good fight scenes and ultimately threw it all away for shock value. I’d definitely recommend watching something like Rocky or Creed instead. Those films manage to finish the ride and deliver with great endings to each of the installments. A good ending applies to just about every kind of game, sport, or entertainment. Finishing is the true skill you need to have in order to make it to the next level. Hopefully if this film was to ever get a remake or a sequel someday it would do a better job of finishing the fight. Until then this will definitely be known as the weakest boxing film I’ve seen.

Overall 3/10

Punch-Out!! Review

It’s time to look at the original Punch-Out game. It’s always good to see where these various Super Smash Bros fighters originally came from. I played through the remake version for the Wii a while back so now it’s time to see if the original holds up. I’d definitely say that it does although some of the opponents are pretty crazy. Good luck taking them down without the rewind feature. The special abilities are pretty creative and couple that with the story and you’ve got yourself a pretty fun NES game.

The goal of course is to get Little Mac to the title of World Champion. To do that you will have to battle your way through 3-4 different circuits and really start to take names. Each match has 3 rounds and you need to either beat the opponent with a really solid counter hit or drain all of his health 3 times. Keep in mind that you will need to do this before the 3 minutes are up or else it will go to time and the referee always picks the defending fighter. That means the deck is stacked against Little Mac, but that’s just the way he likes it. When things are at their bleakest is when he steps up and shows the world what’s up.

The controls are pretty simple. You can punch with your left or your fight, you can do a high punch with either, and you can dodge side to side. There’s also an option to block by holding down. Don’t just start punching all crazy like though or you’ll run out of hearts which leaves you stunned for quite a long time. That’s a good way to lose a fight but there aren’t really any other benefits to doing that. You want to keep the opponents honest, but not at the expense of the match. What you want to do is wait for the opponent to launch a move and then counter with one of your own. Sometimes that means attacking right before the opponent connects or dodging and then attacking. You’ll have to find out through trial and error here.

I will say that the toughest super attack to deal with in my opinion is the tornado of doom. The villain spins around in a circle really quickly and attacks you around 5 times or sometimes even more. You have to block each hit by blocking and then letting go real quick. The tough part is that this still deals damage so if you were already pretty low then you will not survive such a combo. Sometimes ironically the best thing to do is let the opponent KO you because it will end their super attack a lot sooner and this way you will still have some time left on the board. The timer is actually your biggest enemy here and you should make sure you don’t forget that.

One thing that helps to make the game feel a lot more thorough than some of the others that have popped up is how your coach gives you little tips and quotes between rounds. The villains also talk a bit which is cool because it gives the game more of a plot beyond the ole “defeat them all” kind of moments. This feels more like a first party Nintendo game and I can see why people loved Nintendo from the start. Their games just did seem to have an extra dimension of effort and content behind them that the rivals just didn’t have. You couldn’t get that Nintendo seal of quality on just about anything. Punch-Out is one game out of many that really benefited from this.

Overall, Punch-Out!! is a really fun game. As with most of the other titles here at the time there isn’t a lot to do, but the gameplay is fun which is what counts. You can probably clear all of the levels in under 2 hours but it’ll have been a fun two hours. Factor in that you can play this game for free on the Nintendo Switch Online and you are in for a pretty great time. I’m definitely up for a new installment on the Switch someday.

Overall 6/10

ARMS Review

It’s time to look at a fighting game Nintendo churned out a while back. It was one of the big titles for the Switch since it utilized the Joy Con features a lot. That being said, it got quiet very quickly after it came out. It was seen as pretty gimicky but those who stuck around with it did enjoy the game a lot. Well, now it is currently free on the Nintendo Eshop for a few days so I decided to check it out. This way I’ll save myself 60 bucks from actually buying it. It is a great fighting game and there’s a lot of fun to be had here.

When you boot the game up you will notice one thing missing from the start. There is no Story Mode. I was pretty surprised to see that there wasn’t even an Arcade Mode to play through with unique openings and endings. There is 0 story in this game and I think that’s pretty inexcusable for a modern day fighting game. You have to at least do the bare minimum which is have some still images while there is some dialogue about the character. We don’t actually know anything about these characters as a result which is pretty iffy. We’re literally just fighting for kicks now.

So the main modes here are the offline tournament mode and battling people online. The former is fun enough for learning the controls of the game. You get to face off with the computer in traditional fights as well as some minigames like basketball and punching through the rings. The basketball game is very fun and it’s something people have made stages for in Super Smash Bros all the time. The fact that it’s an official mode here it pretty awesome. I can see people having a lot of fun with it here. The shooting though the rings is not quite as fun. It’s basically just a normal fight since the rings barely seem to matter. Landing hits on the opponent is still the best way to win.

As for the main gameplay, it’s a 3D brawler with a similar setup to Pokken. All of your attacks are long range though. You can punch from one side of the stage to the other. You can also try to grab an opponent which will go through the guard. It’s a pretty straight forward fighting game so you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Once you store up enough energy you can use a final smash as well. You’re also given the option to switch your punching equipment between every round. It affects the range of your punch and how strong they are. Test out each weapon until you find one that you really like.

With the points you earn you can then head to the shop and buy some new weapons. It’s a little different than most traditional shops though. You don’t actually pick the equipment that you want. You’re put into a level where you punch at boxes and such. Occasionally a big box will show up containing a random equipment. You have to punch it to obtain this piece. Based on the length of time you chose for this minigame will determine how many items you get. It’s a bit of a roundabout way of unlocking things but it’s fun enough. I’m fine with it as long as duplicates don’t show up. It’d be annoying to play through the whole thing and find out that you just got an old piece.

The character roster isn’t amazing, but it’s decent. It’s big enough where you can’t call it small, but at the same time it could have benefited from a few more characters. I can see how people would like using motion controls for this, but I definitely like traditional for the best. It’s still pretty interesting to use the mechanics since punching with one arm at a time isn’t something you usually do in fighting games. It helps to keep the game a little more fresh and that’s never a bad thing. Particularly since the gameplay is all you will be here for.

The graphics are top notch. It looks and feels a lot like Pokken to me. I wonder if some of the same people were behind this one. It’s all very vibrant and that’s a good thing. The soundtrack is also very lively although a little less memorable. It works well enough while you’re fighting which is the important part. You always want some fast themes to fight to since it helps you keep your speed and tempo up. A slow theme would absolutely defeat the purpose if you ask me.

Really the only thing holding this title back from being better is the lack of content. It really feels like there is nothing to do here beyond fight people online. While fighting people is the main draw in the first place you should really have something else to do as well. I’ve mentioned this a lot in the review but a quick arcade mode would have done wonders. The replay value here is technically limitless but it’s very narrow and as I result I can’t imagine spending 60 bucks on it. I would have felt quite ripped off. You just can’t make a game without any kind of story and sell it for 60 bucks. Even all of the sport games have stories and franchise modes nowadays.

Overall, ARMS is pretty fun. It’s the kind of fighting game that has a lot of potential and automatic replay value. You can keep on busting people online and have fun learning new tricks and strategies. It can be a bit bare bones in terms of offline content though which keeps it from being further up on the list. If you don’t have the Nintendo Switch Online then you need to avoid this game. There is almost literally no reason to buy it if you can’t go online. Still, I do love fighting games and on a technical level this one succeeds quite well. Hopefully when we get a sequel Nintendo remembers to add online this time.

Overall 7/10

The Main Event Review

It’s time to look at an old comedy film that threw in a little boxing. It’s not a film that has aged particularly well though and rarely ends up being funny. The characters aren’t particularly likable and it definitely has one of the worst endings that I’ve seen in quite a while. This film definitely doesn’t feel like the main event and I’m not even sure that I would book it as a side show. As far as I’m concerned this one just ended up dropping the ball at every turn.

The film starts off by introducing us to Hillary who has been doing pretty well for herself as a perfume expert. Unfortunately her accountant runs off with all of her money so now she is poor. All of her assets are sold to pay off her debts and the only thing she has left is the rights to a boxer that she owns. The problem is that he has been living off her money without actually training or boxing for years. Hillary forced him to get in the ring since she still has bills to pay, but can he really win enough matches to actually make a difference? Also, this Eddie fellow isn’t the nicest of guys so she’ll have to keep him on a short leash or he is liable to run away as well.

There is a big problem with the film’s plot from the start. Since Hillary was an excellent perfume mega star why didn’t she just try to regain money by staying in the same field? The competitors are happy to get rid of her by paying for some of the debt along with an agreement of hers to leave the business for good, but I feel like she could have stayed in the career path and made the money back again. It would be difficult but certainly not more so then entering an entirely new field with a boxer who’s never won a fight. Seems to me that she put herself through a lot more trouble than necessary.

Then you’ve got Eddie who is portrayed as being a pretty terrible person from the start. He’s lazy and doesn’t actually want to do any work. There’s really no excuse for this though since he basically lives in a gym and knows that he is getting money to work out. He chooses to waste it away instead as he chases after his dreams, but that isn’t endearing. It just shows that he is self centered and you can’t really root for him. It also makes the second half rather cheesy as this out of shape boxer is suddenly able to take on everyone including the current champ. How is this guy so good after just training seriously for a little while? Something doesn’t add up here.

Then we’ve got the ending. I can’t go into depth with it here, but throughout the film a running gag is that Hillary doesn’t know anything about boxing despite reading books on it and attending all of his fights. She will jump into the ring and do a lot of crazy stuff that gets everyone in trouble. It’s unrealistic and bad writing, but at least it’s accidental. Then she makes a choice in the end that is completely terrible. There’s no positive effect of doing this and I can’t imagine anyone actually doing this. It ends the film on a pretty low note.

You’ve also got to take into account the poor romance in this film. Naturally the two characters don’t like each other as the film starts, but the more they hang out the closer they get. It’s all very generic and obvious, but it really makes no sense. Eddie is also far too pushy the whole time and was beyond the point where you could root for him. The whole plot of Hillary having to stay at the same inn as the rough boxers was also terrible. They’re portrayed to be downright villainous and you’ll just feel bad for Hillary the whole time. She’s the one who’s had a rough time of it. In comparison Eddie is really just whining when he has no right to do so.

Overall, The Main Event is not a film I’d recommend. The writing really isn’t that good. With enough jokes thrown in I’m sure some will land, but ultimately you could do a lot better with the Streisand films. The plot starts off flimsy so throwing in a crazy ending was really the decisive blow. There isn’t really anything positive to say about this film. I suppose the fights were okay, but they were definitely no Rocky. That’s an impossibly high bar to compare with of course, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of boxing movies so I don’t have too many options to use. Hopefully her next film is a little better.

Overall 3/10

Megalo Box Review

It’s time to look at a pretty recent anime that came out. I hadn’t seen any boxing titles prior to checking this one out so that was definitely pretty cool. It’s definitely a quality title that does a good job of illustrating the kind of world Joe is in. It doesn’t lose sight of the main plot during this though so it consistently moves at a good speed. Really the only bad thing about the show is the opening and in the grand scheme of things that doesn’t mean a lot.

The show takes place in the future. Boxers now use cybernetic enhancements to fight known as “Gear.” It’s like a robotic backpack that extends to your fists. Some have it ingrained in their bodies while others use the basic gear. Joe has been fighting in an underground arena for all his life and he’s sick of it. He has to throw fights to win and as such he is unable to really test his skills. His big chance occurs when they announce the Megalonia tournament. He decides to enter and gets into the tournament with a fake id thanks to some help from his coach Nanbu. Still, the more Joe climbs up the ranks the more it seems like he can’t escape his fast. What will end him first? The top ranked boxer Yuri, or his dark past?

Right away you can tell that Megalo Box did a good job with the atmosphere. It’s going for a very realistic setting despite being in the future. For the most part it actually feels like the past, but it just shows the natural progression of how the rich have gotten even richer while the poor continue to fade away. It doesn’t go too far into making the place tough to look at either though. I’m not a big fan of deserts of those kind of backdrops because I like seeing the more high-tech areas. As such the best looking scenes are often in the ring or at Megalonia. Still, the show did a good job with the setting.

The soundtrack is also top notch. The themes all capture the moments that they’re placed in. They help up the intensity without feeling really forced or anything like that. It’s probably one of the best soundtracks that I’ve heard in quite some time. The animation is also pretty solid. It’s nothing extremely high end, but it’s all pretty smooth. I don’t recall any bad looking episodes so it was pretty consistent the whole time. It continues to give 12-13 episode titles a good name. They seem to consistently have some of the best animation, pacing, and music available. Something about only being 12 episodes seems to help enormously with the budget which makes sense. I think it creates a cycle where the best writers/animators try to get onto those shows and so they continue to excel.

As I mentioned, the show does falter with the opening though. It’s just pretty terrible which is surprising. It’s going for a meta look at Joe at a literal dog and other such stuff, but it doesn’t really give you a good impression of the show. If you showed me the opening I would have told you that the show was likely terrible. There’s just no potential in the opening or anything to grab your attention. The music for the song isn’t particularly catchy either. I definitely don’t agree with the approach the show was going for with this intro.

The character cast was solid so lets quickly talk about them. The best character is the reigning champ of Megalonia. His name is Yuri and he’s pretty much the rival/main antagonist all in one package. I like his confidence and he’s the kind of opponent who is fighting for something. He’s not just a random obstacle to face nor is he a boxer who turned crazy. The guy just likes a good fight and is also trying to reward the faith that the leader of the corporation put in him. He’s a good guy and also just wants a clean fight. He won’t accept a win any other way. We don’t get to see him fight much at all (mainly because of the show’s length) but he is definitely a scene stealer.

Then you’ve got Joe who was close to taking on Yuri for the top spot here. He’s always looking for a fight and is a very aggressive character. A lot of times the main character can heavily influence how good a show is and I think Joe also contributed to Megalo Box’s quality. When the villains try playing mind games with him Joe is often able to get past this without help. Where other characters would start guilt tripping themselves Joe is able to stand strong. A good example of this is when a guy who lost his legs in a war shows up to guilt trip Joe. Joe doesn’t buy it and after explaining that it has nothing to do with him just goes in for the win. Joe is fixated on getting to the top and doesn’t let anything get in his way. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have any doubts or trials, but he does a good job of getting past them.

Then you’ve got his coach Nanbu. That guy isn’t quite as solid as the first two. Mindgames always work on him and the villains tend to have a lot of leverage on him so he’s not someone that you can really count on most of the time. He’s also got the toughest road to follow in the show as bad things seem to happen to him constantly. A lot of it is trouble that he really started though so you can only sympathize with him so much. Long story short, he’s a decent mentor character, but definitely not one of my favorite characters. Then there’s the kid Sachio who isn’t quite as bad as he could have been. He’s still a little out of place among the main members of the cast though. He isn’t nearly as smart or witty as the others so he ends up just being around to throw tantrums when he doesn’t get what is going on. I don’t think he ever really needed to stick around.

Yukiko is the rich leader of the company sponsoring the tournament. As such she does serve as one of the main antagonists. Unlike Yuri she is not about fair play and will succeed no matter what the cost is. Still, she is reasonable for the most part. She does share some of the usual prejudice against the lower class but is at least willing to provide a safe haven for the kid. She got a good amount of closure in the ending. Fujimaki is the leader of the thugs and someone who helps the main characters quite a bit. He’s an annoying antagonist who gets in the way a lot, but he is certainly good at his job. I was glad that the random villains couldn’t hack his fake ID so easily since that would have made him look bad. As it stands, his plan was pretty solid although expecting Joe to just backout at the end wasn’t too realistic. He’s easily the most evil character in the series. I think if Nanbu and Joe had talked to Yuri then maybe they could have avoided some of this, but it was a complicated situation.

Through his journey to the end Joe did manage to fight some other notable characters as well. There were two in particular. The first is Aragaki who was Nanbu’s first pupil. He has good reason to be upset since everyone basically ditched him. He’s still not all that reasonable though with how he’s targeting Joe though since he’s not just using him as a scapegoat. His fight is definitely an intense one though and one of the more memorable bouts in the series. Then there is Mikio who is actually a pretty great antagonist. He’d be second only to Yuri from the villain side. What really works for his plot is the fact that Mikio is a wild card. He wants to take down both Joe and Yuri while foiling Yukiko’s ambitions at the same time. This would also destroy all of Fujimaki’s plans. Basically if he wins then everyone else loses.

I always love it when a third party steps in. There’s just so many ways they can wreck everyone’s gameplan. Still, you’ll know right away whether he has any chance of succeeding just because there’s only so many wrinkles that a show can have before getting back on track. This isn’t the kind of show that’s going to subvert the ending to such a degree. From episode 3 or even earlier you know how the final fight is going to go down. There’s no room for someone like Mikio there. I did like his armor though and overall he is a charismatic fighter. This isn’t the kind of show that will likely get a season 2, but if it ever did I could see him getting a role.

As far as the ending goes, it’s pretty lackluster. Fortunately the rest of the show is solid enough where it doesn’t really matter but I feel like it did everything wrong. I don’t really like Joe’s intentions at the end. It’s not that they’re bad, but it seems really out of character. Was his final fight that intense/satisfactory? Then Yuri’s end is also really not satisfying at all. I felt it was pretty excessive. Nanbu’s life is also basically wrecked so that’s too bad for him. Then there’s the outcome of the final fight which I wasn’t a big fan of. The show goes out of its way to reassure you that the outcome would have been different if one of the fighters hadn’t done something drastic before it started, but I was still hoping it would go the other way. The conversation with the army that serves as a red herring also heavily hinted this was the case. It’s done intentionally to keep you guessing, but once you know the outcome then the conversation makes absolutely no sense. Ah well, the ending could have been a lot worse.

I do have one other complaint, but this one’s more about power levels. At the start of the show the gear is hyped up quite a bit. It’s considered madness to get into the ring without gear and expect to walk away with your life/the win. Well, when Joe does this for almost the whole series it doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. Sure, the punches hurt a little bit more, but that’s about it. I don’t know, I was expecting much more of a difference. It feels like everyone could just fight without gear without many side effects. Sure, as a competitor you take whatever edge you can in order to secure the win so it makes sense from a narrative perspective why they would use it, but the gear should offer more of an advantage. Joe could have still won by dodging hits. The irony is that he always takes a lot of hits in every match so if the gear was even remotely stronger than a normal punch Joe definitely should have been dead in several of those fights. So I think the gear mechanic wasn’t really handled as well as it should have been.

After all, the show was epic even without it. All of my favorite hype scenes didn’t even involve gear. One if the first confrontation with Joe and Yuri where they nearly spar. It’s an intense moment and while Yuri actually did have the gear on under his jacket, it’s just about Joe defying authority. I also liked the stinger with Mikio showing up to blackmail Joe and then the sucker punch. It’s too bad Joe couldn’t have fought him right there though. That would have been fun. Then we also have Joe crashing the announcement party to try and throw himself back in the tournament. Again, Joe’s just a great character who is always trying to get in on the action. It’s impressive how much he does in only a few episodes.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Megalo Box very highly. It’s a very complete anime title and one that has no real weaknesses. The character cast is strong and the anime looks/sounds very good. The plot is pretty memorable and the episodes offer great cliffhangers so you’re always ready for the next installment. Megalo Box does more to keep its events memorable in 12 episodes than some do in 26. It’s going to be very hard for another boxing anime to top this one. Not saying it’s impossible of course, but this one really knew how to keep boxing exciting and fresh.

Overall 8/10

Creed II Review

It’s time to look at the new Creed film. While boxing movies may have never become a huge genre, it was always one where you could immediately think of 5 films. That’s because the Rocky series exists. It set a really high bar for the genre so then when it left you couldn’t help but miss it. When the first Creed film came out it worked as a nice sequel to the franchise. Now we could finally see a whole new generation of fights. While I believe the first film holds the slight edge, this movie does a good job of staying on the same level and certainly delivers with the fights.

The movie starts with Adonis claiming the heavyweight title from another guy. He is now the world champ and has begun to settle into his role as a master. He and Bianca are starting a family and things are going well until Viktor shows up. He is the son of Ivan Drago, the guy who murdered Adonis’ father. Naturally Adonis has a hard time trying to refuse Viktor’s challenge and decides to get into the ring once more. The problem is that Adonis is a quick fighter, but his hits don’t land a lot of damage. If he isn’t careful then it’s going to be all over. He has nothing to gain while Viktor has nothing to lose.

From the start of the film’s trailers and plot summaries I was a bit dubious about Adonis’ decision to fight. Of course it’s all very personal to him of course and he brings up the fact that Rocky essentially did the same thing, but it was a little different. In Rocky’s defense, Ivan murdered Apollo right in front of him so he had to get in there and avenge him. In this case, it’s all behind Adonis, but he just wants to prove that he can win where Apollo did not. Adonis can bring honor back into his family name. He trains and everything so it’s not like he walks into the match blind, but I do think it certainly wasn’t a great call on his part. If you gotta take the fight then take it, but don’t block everyone out in the mean time. Adonis even pushes Bianca away for a while during this period.

By the end of the film Adonis has realized once more what is really important and effectively ends his character arc..until the sequel. While he may have had a few rough patches I would still say that he is a pretty solid main character to root for. Meanwhile Bianca has her music plot although it doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time in this installment. From what is shown we can tell that Bianca is doing quite well though. I’m glad the film didn’t try to go for the “Adonis is jealous” route here as that would have been petty. Adonis is certainly not that kind of character. Bianca’s definitely a solid heroine and it looks like her career will keep going on in the next film as well. I don’t know how long the shelf life for a boxer is but there’s a good chance she will outlast him.

Viktor is the main villain here and he definitely looks a lot stronger than the guy from the last film. In fact, the film makes him look so powerful that you may have a tough time believing that Adonis can hold his own at all. The guy is just way too strong and Adonis’ hits don’t have nearly as much weight. There’s not much to Viktor aside from being the villain here, but I’d say that this works pretty well. All you really need to know about Viktor is that he wants to win to please his father so naturally his drive is very strong. At the same time he definitely fights dirty so I don’t think you will be forgetting that he is the villain anytime soon.

Rocky still serves as the main mentor role here and does a good job in it. His fighting days are certainly gone, but he’s still an excellent coach because of his experience both in and out of the ring. Since he overcame the health problems in the first film they aren’t a concern this time around. While it would be nice to see him fight as a homage to the old films it isn’t all that realistic because of how old he is. When Ivan shows up you get the feeling that the guy can still fight, but Rocky is certainly not in a condition to do so. He still gets the good one liners in though. Meanwhile Ivan is a pretty solid villain like Viktor. His only failing I’d say is that the guy puts way too much stock in trying to impress the Russians. He really shouldn’t care after they abandoned him. I suppose his national pride blinded the guy until the end.

Sort of a side note, but it was nice to see Max here. He’s always pretty fun on ESPN First Take so seeing him here was pretty surreal. If anything it made the boxing matches feel a lot more realistic and legit here compared to previous films. The movie does a good job of making you feel every blow. You can instantly tell which shots had glancing damage and which ones really made the character feel it. For the big comeback punches you’ll have the slow-mo feature at the ready. I’m sure that a big reason why you will be watching this film at the end of the day is for the fights so they do deliver.

As for the soundtrack, that one is definitely a step below the classic Rocky films. The new tracks just aren’t nearly as inspirational. They don’t make you feel like it’s time for the hero to take down the opponents and save the day. They may be fast paced tunes, but I can’t say that the lyrics seem all that great. Even the script can be a bit weaker than the old films as it has a bit more language. Nothing too bad, but still just enough that it can be a bit noticeable.

If there is any other weak aspect of the film it is definitely the romance. It did take up quite a bit of time and I think the first film already had that plot completed. The extra drama we got here could feel forced at times. It seems to be resolved though so I’m assuming that for the third film it won’t really be a factor. I’m still wondering what that film will be about, but I’m betting that somebody arrives to challenge Adonis. It would just make sense right?

Overall, Creed II is a solid boxing movie and works as a good sequel to the first Creed. It’s got everything you would want to see in this film. It’s reasonably long with solid pacing so it never feels like it is being dragged out. The main cast of characters are all rather solid. If the film intends to redeem Ivan and Viktor by the end I have to say that they still have a lot of work to do. I still consider both to be villains. While Adonis may not have looked quite as good as in the first film I think he’ll be back at his best for the third film. I hope they get Max to sign on for the third film as well since his insight is always appreciated. Of course, throwing in Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith would also be exciting. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I would definitely recommend doing so.

Overall 7/10