powered by AFI
A powerhouse boxer under the wing of a Mafia-controlled black promoter.
In Los Angeles, the head of a crime syndicate orders African-American boxing manager Big Sid to take better control of the docks through which their heroin shipments are smuggled, and informs him that soon they will be branching out into more lucrative sports. Sid then instructs his psychopathic henchman, Brenner, to oversee the arrival of a crate containing heroin. At the dock, Brenner pays off various workers, including Roughhouse, a former boxer who worked for Sid, and Henry Jones, another one of Sid's employees. Riley, a vicious dock worker who is in on the smuggling, goes after an innocent worker for interfering and beats him badly. The assaulted man is the partner of former Golden Gloves champion B. J. Hammer, and B. J. quickly bests Riley. After the fight, B. J. is fired and Henry presents him to Sid as a potential boxer. At the gym, boxing trainer Professor appraises B. J.'s moves, although police detective Davis, also an African American, warns B. J. that he should not become involved with the shady Sid. B. J. happily signs with Sid as his manager, however, and soon is sharing Sid's guest house with Professor. That night, the vicious Brenner murders Roughhouse, who had told Sid that he wanted out of the racket, by running over him numerous times with his car. The next day, as B. J. begins training in earnest, Davis tells him that Roughhouse had an "accident," as many of Sid's ex-boxers do, and wishes him a long career. As time passes, Sid's white mistress, Rhoda, becomes attracted to B. J., but he is interested in Sid's African-American secretary, Lois, who is unaware of Sid's illegal activities. After B. J. finally impresses Professor enough, the trainer gives him an evening off, which he spends with Lois at a nightclub. The straightforward Lois rebuffs B. J.'s advances, however, telling him that he is not "together" enough for her. When B. J. returns home, Rhoda attempts to seduce him, but the boxer sends her away when Lois calls to apologize and promise a "rematch" in the future. Soon after, B. J. handily wins his next fight and at a weigh-in for another bout, tells reporters that his "whirlwind rise" is because of his unique style. Although B. J. again wins, Davis disparages his victory, telling him that his opponent was not in his league and that the match was arranged by Sid to make B. J.'s career move faster. Davis begs for help to find evidence to arrest Sid, but B. J. again insists that because he himself is innocent, there is nothing he can do. Later, Riley gives Henry a shipment of heroin to transport, but Davis, who is tailing Riley, sees the transaction. Henry spots Davis following him, however, and soon two patrol cars, alerted by Davis, have joined in a long chase. Although Henry escapes, the drugs are confiscated. Panicked, Henry bursts into Sid's office, where Brenner beats him until he listens quietly to Sid's instructions to prepare to leave the country. After Henry goes home to pack, however, Brenner convinces Sid that Henry will talk if apprehended, and so Brenner and his hoods administer a lethal dose of heroin to Henry. The next night, at a big party, Davis informs B. J. and Lois of Henry's death and implies that Sid is involved in the drug trade. Although B. J. again refuses to side with Davis, as he talks with Lois later, she says that Davis' accusations against Sid make sense, given what she witnessed of Henry's behavior when he burst into the office. B. J. still insists that he is out to make a name for himself, and that he is using Sid just as much as Sid is using him. After B. J. assures Lois that he is tough enough to take care of himself, the couple spend the night making love, and then relax together the following day. By the time of B. J.'s next big fight, a year has passed since his firing from the docks, and as he prepares for the bout, Davis reads aloud a newspaper article about his rapid rise in boxing. Davis caustically states that his opponent will take a dive for "Sid's mighty buck," and after he triumphs, B. J. begins to doubt the authenticity of his wins. B. J. goes to the empty gym where Bruiser, a punch-drunk former heavyweight champion, tells him that he has been helped with his fights. Now even more forlorn, B. J. wanders his old neighborhood, where several former friends jeeringly accuse him of selling out. Meanwhile, Sid meets with his boss, eagerly telling him that B. J. can go all the way to the championship. The boss insists, however, that B. J. take a dive in the next fight, which will allow the syndicate to make a huge profit, and even more later when B. J. makes a sudden comeback by winning his next fight. Although he is disappointed, Sid acquiesces and orders Professor to instruct B. J. to lose the fight. Professor, a former champion himself who was badly mismanaged by Sid, refuses, however, and storms away. Brenner again persuades Sid to let him talk to Professor, but when Brenner and his men confront the older man in the gym, they beat him ferociously. Bruiser, asleep nearby, awakens and summons B. J. and Davis. The badly beaten Professor confirms that Brenner was his assailant, and when B. J. confronts Sid, Sid confesses that Brenner, no longer under his control, has kidnapped Lois and that unless B. J. throws the fight, she will be killed. B. J. and Davis search frantically for Lois to no avail, and as he prepares for the bout, B. J. tells Davis that he has been ordered to "swan" in the last round. Davis promises to find Lois before it is too late, and as B. J. gets into the ring, the policeman follows a lead to the docks. There, he finds Lois being guarded by Riley and frees her. Meanwhile, at the stadium, Sid, guarded by Brenner and his thugs, watches nervously as B. J. valiantly struggles against his opponent. Sid tries to assure Brenner that B. J. will follow orders, but when the boxer receives word that Lois is safe, he knocks out the other fighter in the ninth round. After everyone has left the stadium, the gangsters escort Sid out but he attempts to flee. He is gunned down by Brenner, after which several of B. J.'s friends chase the hoodlums while B. J. goes after Brenner. After a bitter struggle, B. J. trounces Brenner and shoves his head through a car window. Davis arrives with Lois, who tenderly promises to care for B. J.'s wounds. As they walk off together, Lois assures B. J. that she will stick with him no matter what trouble lies ahead, and he declares that with her beside him, he can "whup the whole world."
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||R||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 20 Sep 1972|
|Release Date:||1972||Production Date:||
A Bernard Schwartz Production
|Color/B&W:||Color (DeLuxe)||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Essaness Pictures Corp.|
Leonard Maltin Ratings & Review
LEONARD MALTIN MOVIE RATING
LEONARD MALTIN MOVIE REVIEW:
User Ratings & Review
This title has not been reviewed. Be the FIRST to write a review by CLICKING HERE >
User Ratings & Review