Rowing Through (1996)





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On the heels of making Painted Desert, Japanese director Masato Harada took another stab at presenting America to a mass Japanese audience -- this time with a largely Western cast. Based on David Halberstam's book The Amateurs -- about Olympic class rowers robbed of their dreams of gold in the 1980 Moscow games by when America protested Russia's ill-fated invasion of Afghanistan. The film focuses on Tiff Wood (Colin Ferguson), a Harvard skuller who still broods over the decree as he trains for the 1984 games. Slouching past his prime and feeling it, Tiff casts a leery eye at his younger, stronger competitors, particularly the square-jawed Bigelow (Pete Murnik) and a shorn hunk of sculpted muscle who calls himself Polar Bear Nelson (James Hyndman). When not pounding the waves, the divides his attention between Kate (Leslie Hope), a mean-spirited former Harvard coxswain who inflates Tiff's hopes at making the team, and Slim (Helen Shaver), a world-weary Russian barkeep who tells Tiff to dry his oars. This being a Japanese production -- a national cinema not known for its Rocky-style endings -- this underdog gives his all to the film's final tournament, and fails.
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James Hyndman
as Polar Bear Nelson
Leslie Hope
as Kate Bordeleau
Christopher Heyerdahl
as Paul Enquist
Colin Ferguson
as Tiff Wood
Kenneth Welsh
as Harry Parker
Christopher Jacobs
as Joe Bouscaren
Andrew Tarbet
as Greg Stone
Rita Gam
as Iris Biglow
Peter Murnik
as John Biglow
Claude Genest
as Al Shealy
Kristen Holdenreid
as Kurt Cruise
Ellen Cohen
as Alexandra
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