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The Calcium Kid (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None listed

ORLANDO Bloom may be well on the way to Hollywood super-stardom, thanks to impressive turns in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Pirates of the Caribbean, but he suffers a heavy blow in his latest - a particularly wretched boxing comedy, that is likely to leave viewers feeling punch-drunk and sick.

The Calcium Kid was actually filmed before Pirates of the Caribbean, and is designed as a mock-umentary about a milkman, come boxer, who unexpectedly lands a world title shot, despite never having boxed a competitive match.

Yet the film runs out of energy in round one, and becomes a testing experience for all but the most die-hard of Bloom’s fans.

To be fair to the actor, he is the most appealing thing about the film, as his unlikely hero, Jimmy Connelly, is quite an endearing character, but had it been released prior to Bloom’s success in bigger projects, it is doubtful whether he would be considered leading man material.

But then first-time feature director, Alex De Rakoff, provides little assistance, over-populating his film with genuinely disaffecting characters, and failing to strike a balance between what he wants from the overall experience.

The mock-umentary aspects of the film pale by comparison to the more polished likes of Best in Show or A Mighty Wind, while the uneven tone, which flits between comedy and violence, constantly undermines the flow of the film, to the extent that you’re not really sure what you’re watching.

There are elements of Rocky (emphasised by the use of that film’s theme music), as well as British gangster flicks, such as Lock, Stock, during the film’s ridiculous finale, but all of it fails to gel, and while there is a certain curiosity value in seeing how the ill-prepared Connelly will compete against World Champion boxer, Jose Mendez, the story is told in such a way that it makes it near-impossible to go the distance.

De Rakoff, who also serves as screenwriter, must shoulder a lot of the blame, for taking an original screenplay, by Raymond Friel and Derek Boyle, and turning it into such an unappealing mess.

The story, itself, could have been interesting, but is so badly handled, that it quickly becomes uninteresting, while the characters which populate it are terrible.

Omid Djalili’s self-obsessed boxing promoter, Herbie Bush, is indicative of the half-baked performances on show, coming across as a hopelessly stereotyped version of any sleazy promoter/Arthur Daly-type, while the likes of Rafe Spall, as Jimmy’s slobbish best friend, and David Kelly, as an eccentric old Irish trainer, simply serve to heighten the nausea value.

The film also marks the big screen debut of former pop star, Billy Piper, but viewers are asked to believe that Connelly could fall in love with her purely on the basis of a winning smile and an overly exposed cleavage; while boxer turned actor, Tamer Hassan, seems to spend the entire movie thinking he is in a Guy Ritchie production.

There is not a single redemptive feature about the project, which ends up as another spectacular misfire for the British film industry.

Bloom’s reputation probably won’t be too battered by this featherweight nonsense, but he would do well to avoid such career blows in the future.

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