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An unpredictable story that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr. Star in "Shadowboxer."
Theatrical Review: When Rose, a female assassin, is diagnosed with terminal cancer, her whole life becomes laid out in front of her, having to doubt the many decisions and evil acts she took part in. Her partner, in business and personal, is her step-son Mickey, a cold-hearted killer who only feels compassion for Rose, and will do anything to protect her and make her happy. During a routine contracted hit, Rose is faced with a decision to break her contract or murder a pregnant woman. Her choice becomes obvious as she not only spares the woman's life, but helps her hide from the man that wanted her dead, her husband.

The film is a special treat for anyone that is looking to get away from mainstream Hollywood films. It brings forth a story of love and dedication with murder and violence, all through a very surprising cast. The main role of Mickey is played by Oscar winner, Cuba Gooding Jr., who reinstated my faith in his abilities after numerous bombs. His relationship with Rose (the brilliant Helen Mirren) is nothing short of odd and peculiar, but is overshadowed by an even stranger and disturbing relationship between Joseph Gordon-Levitt's and Mo'Nique's characters.

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The main thing that sticks out about this film, is the raw vision behind it. Scenes of ruthless murder are sprinkled into every part of this story, but ironically, it is not the violence that kept my attention, but Mickey's struggle to accept the situation unfolding around him. His slow transformation from an emotionless and silent drone, to a caring and even selfless individual, played out beautifully.

From start to finish, first-time director Lee Daniels keeps the film's focus on the right parts, and really makes the audience care for the characters. Stephen Dorff's portrayal of the psychotic husband is nothing short of scary, but also reminiscent of his role in "Cold Creek Manor," where his friendly smile is always followed by brutal violence. While his character was simple, it was the crossing of paths between him and Mickey that brought the story together.

I overlooked this film during its short-lived theatrical run mostly due to the seemingly predictable plot, which first-time directors gravitate to. Now that I got to see it, it is a shame that the film did not receive more recognition.

Overall, this film has it all; bizarre characters, love, violence, great visuals, and an unpredictable story that keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way to the end. This one is a must see.


Movie: 8/10
DVD: 5/10
Overall: 7/10

Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen


The Making of Shadowboxer:
Several interesting looks into what went on backstage. Including, the fight over a zebra, and Cuba's feelings on working with Dorff. Lee Daniels also shows off his unique vision and personality, which is shown through several backstage gatherings during the shooting of some of the scenes. Duration is only 12 minutes.

Audio Commentary By Lee Daniels & Cuba Gooding Jr.:
The commentary is your standard character insights, but also delved into what goes into a low-budget film production.

Overall: While the DVD itself is nothing more than the actual film, it is still worth checking out for the same reason. Not many people caught "Shadowboxer" at the theaters, due to its limited theatrical release, but now is your chance to catch this intense and bizarre story of an unlikely pair during their most difficult moments.

July 21st, 2006 (limited)
November 7th, 2006 (DVD)

Freestyle Releasing

Lee Daniels

Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding Jr., Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Macy Gray, Stephen Dorff, MoNique Imes-Jackson, Vanessa Ferlito

Total: 8 vote(s).

Drama, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated R for strong graphic violence and sexuality, nudity, language and some drug use.

93 min






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