Actor Mickey Rourke’s decade-old pet project about a battered, burnt-out smalltime boxer is a sort of Raging Bull without horns, wallowing dully in the cliches of movieland gutter romanticism.
Though nominally written by Eddie Cook [from a story by Mickey Rourke] and directed by Alan Parker’s habitual lenser Michael Seresin in his helming debut, this in fact is all Rourke’s show. He’s refused himself nothing – except a good screenplay and direction.
Rourke’s tale is a purported homage to a boxer he idolized in his youth when he himself trained to be a fighter. Here called Johnny Walker, Rourke’s hero is just another inarticulate All-American lowlife. Adopting a neo-Neanderthal expression and cowboy duds, Rourke is first seen slouching into an Atlantic coastal town for a fight engagement.
His zombie-like condition doesn’t prevent him from being befriended by Christopher Walken, who steals the show with a colorful portrayal of a narcissistic two-bit hoodlum. Walken tries to sucker Rourke into taking part in a jewelry shop hold-up he has long been dreaming of. But Rourke decides to go back into the ring for the love of a young fairground operator (Debra Feuer, the ex-Mrs Rourke), whose business is failing.