Boxing films, in recent years, have found themselves on the come-back trail. You have “Million Dollar Baby,” “Cinderella Man”… “Rocky Balboa” even stepped back into the ring one last time. Eager to join the boxing ranks, “Resurrecting the Champ” has taken the tried-and-true formula of the boxing underdog with a slight variation. Instead of a man who is given another shot in the ring, he is given another shot at life.
“Resurrecting the Champ” is the story of sports journalist Erik (Josh Hartnett) who is very close to losing his job because his editor Metz (Alan Alda) believes he doesn’t bring any heart into his work. Then Erik finds a homeless man getting beaten up by some college guys and rescues him. Erik soon finds out that this homeless man was once the third greatest heavy-weight boxer in the world known as The Champ (Samuel L. Jackson), who was believed to be dead twenty years ago and now spends his days as a homeless man in Denver. Erik realizes that Champ’s life story could be his ticket from washed-up writer to fame and as the film goes on, both men become great friends. Just as Champ unravels his story to Erik, the young journalist discovers buried things about himself.
Rod Lurie directs this film, which is built upon an adaptation of an LA Times article written by Allison Burnett, Michael Bortman and Rod Lurie himself. This may be a film associated with boxing but it is much more about being an honest man and fighting for what you really want.
The movie portrays Samuel L. Jackson in a way that I have never seen before. No longer is he fighting Sith or snakes, Jackson hasn’t had such an involving role since “Pulp Fiction.” Beyond Sammy, Josh Hartnett carries the film quite well as the lead, making for the first time in a film that I actually enjoyed his perfomance. Really the only acting slight in the film was the child actor that played his son, who was very annoying at first but did slowly become tolerable.
In the end, I have to admit that I like boxing movies. I like Samuel L. Jackson movies as well. Therefore it is great to see a boxing movie that portrays both boxing and Jackson in different lights. The sports underdog story isn’t dead, and I believe that this film can breath new life into a genre that has become so obvious over the years.