Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Big Man (1990)

Neeson Soars As The Big Man

- Six years before Liam Neeson was "The Big Fella," he was "The Big Man" in this very underrated and unnoticed film: The Big Man (1990 - AKA: Crossing The Line, depending on which continent you live on).

Fans of Liam Neeson (like yours truly) simply need to see this film! Neeson gives a great performance here in his pre-Schindler's List (1993) era as Danny Scoular, a Scottish blue-collar man out on his luck who turns to illegal bare-knuckle boxing to make a buck. As if Danny did not have enough troubles coming in, this gets him involved with the mob. A man of principle, Danny is also hurting and desperate, and Liam Neeson runs the show with a great intensity and towering presence.

The Big Man is a very entertaining movie. The story of Danny is told well through a terrific showing by Liam Neeson and is well filmed by David Leland, with good particularly good tracking shots and some of the most intense, in-your-face boxing scenes that would make Rocky shiver.

Neeson is also backed up well by the supporting cast. Comedian Billy Conolly turns in a good supporting performance as Danny's lying and selfish manager Frankie. Conolly is funny of course throughout much of the film, but he also does a good job with the more dramatic scenes. Joanne Whalley does a pretty good job here too as Beth Scoular, Danny's wife, and Hugh Grant even pops up here in the film and isn't too bad generally - although he has trouble holding his Scottish accent.

Well written enough not to ruin anything, some unimaginative dialogue and illogical moves on the part of some characters are found here and there throughout The Big Man that constitute the film's biggest failings. One specific instance of "huh?" writing occurs when crime lord Matt Mason gives a mini speech that makes no sense at all. Something about "God" .... and uh, "contracts" .... and "glory" and I have no idea what he is talking about! The occasional muddy motive and line of dialogue is accompanied by an ending that's a tad too melodramatic but the rest of the story is quite engaging, following Danny around throughout his trials and successes.

You probably have never heard of it before; however, despite any problems the film may have, with Liam Neeson carrying the torch, The Big Man is a good film and certainly worth your time, especially if you are a fan of either Neeson or boxing films in general.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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