Plot: Bobby Mulligan (Daniel Greene) is a tough guy looking for his shot at a big break, but he seems to have bad luck when it comes to opportunities. He is rugged and knows how to handle himself in the boxing ring, but he can’t seem to get a real shot and is determined to prove himself. Martin Duranti (Guiliano Gemma) is the man who controls the local fight scene and while he has raked in a ton of cash, his fixed fights have gotten so obvious that the crowd has turned. When he sees Bobby drop his sparring partner with ease, Martin offers Bobby a potential run at the champion, though those close to him worry about this partnership. As he prepares to take his shot at glory, Bobby also has to contend with his beloved girlfriend, her judgmental father (Ernest Borgnine), and a slippery series of encounters with Martin’s main squeeze. Can Bobby prove he is the best or will Martin lead him down the path to corruption?
Entertainment Value: I had a lot of fun with this one, an outlandish cinematic ride that combines an underdog sports narrative with crime thriller elements and even some action movie elements, all in an outlandish, b movie style package. I would love to know more about Sergio Martino’s vision for Uppercut Man (also known as The Opponent), as is such a strange slice of cinema, but it never failed to entertain me and will be one I recommend often. The basic plot is rather predictable, as you’d expect from this kind of underdog yarn, but Uppercut Man has so many offbeat, wild moments mixed in that it never feels warmed over. Bobby has to dodge an entire crew of hooligans, an organized crime syndicate, a disapproving father, and a love triangle, all while no one seems to believe in him whatsoever. Or they think he is a world beater one minute and a total bum the next, which adds to the good times. The action isn’t limited to the squared circle either, as we have frequent fist fights, car chases, explosive set pieces, and more, so no matter how feel about it, the flick is never dull. I can see how some might not connect with how odd Uppercut Man can be, but I had a blast with this movie and give it a strong recommendation.
No nakedness. There’s a few sex scenes, but they’re tame and the sleaze is left for the boxing promotion scams. But we do have a wonderful scene where Martin and his mistress engage in some erotic shower affection, while both are fully clothed under the shower head. That is simply fantastic and while some skin is always nice, this ridiculous scene helps compensate. Not much blood, but some gunshot wounds yield the red stuff and of course, the brawls produce some various light bloodshed. There’s also a nasty scene that involves some hand trauma, which ties well into the mob themes. The movie isn’t short on action however, as I described above this one has a consistent flow of various styles, from fights to chases to shootouts. The set pieces aren’t grand by any means, but they’re fun and pack the same kind of outrageous vibes as the rest of the picture. I like a lot about this movie, but the dialogue and performances is where I think Uppercut Man really shines. This is packed with awkward, off the wall, and nonsensical lines that are quotable and always hilarious. Even common phrases are somehow twisted into strange exchanges, while the dead serious cast makes sure even the most ludicrous lines are given sincere deliveries. I love the dialogue in this one, so many great and memorable lines throughout. There’s ample craziness as well, from the aforementioned fully clothed shower erotica to Ernest Borgnine slapping a woman for loving a man who hits people, which is as bizarre as it sounds. You can also see bleach drinking, a crime boss who can’t swim, a training montage that includes learning to use a knife & fork again, and so much more.
Overall Insanity: 8/10