On the Ropes (1999)

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The dreams and struggles of three aspiring boxers and the trainer who works with them (at the same Bed-Stuy gym where Mike Tyson used to work out) form the basis of On The Ropes, a documentary that debuted at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival. Noel Santiago, a one-time gang member, has the skills to be a good boxer, but lacks the conviction to work through the struggles involved. George Walton, a Golden Gloves champ, had his shot at a professional career but lost it at the hands of a crooked manager and is looking for a second chance. Tyrene Manson, a fiercely determined female boxer, sees fighting as her best chance to escape poverty until she's arrested during a drug raid on her uncle's home. And trainer Harry Keitt, a former fighter himself who once sparred with Muhammad Ali, tries to live down a history of alcoholism and a stretch in prison as he walks a fine line between nurturing the talents of the young people he cares for and trying a grab a percentage of the money they could earn as champions.

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Critic Reviews for On the Ropes

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4)

The filmmakers convey Harry and his fighters' victories and defeats with a soul-rocking combination of intimacy and intricacy.

Aug 14, 2017 | Full Review…

The American dream has not been so effectively fought for onscreen in a long, long time.

Jan 16, 2003 | Rating: 5/5

One of the best docs of the last decade

Jul 26, 2002 | Rating: 5/5

A marvelously compelling documentary, even if it seems rigged when it isn't.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Despite gritty settings and occasionally harsh language, it's a warm, uplifting film that deserves a wide audience.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

[The film's] attitude is kind of a don't ask-don't tell policy: we won't ask why we're supposed to be emotionally moved, and [the filmmakers] won't tell us.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

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