On The Ropes

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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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Special Features

biography; movie trailer; production notes; commentary; epilogue
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Mike Hammer
In the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York, you have to be tough -- and smart -- to keep life from knocking you to the canvas. That's the turf On the Ropes, an Oscar-nominated documentary, covers in surprisingly intimate fashion. Two young men and a woman, who are trying to get off the streets and into a boxing ring, are offered guidance and life lessons by their trainer, Harry Keitt, a battered but unbeaten former fighter who once trained with Muhammad Ali. Keitt, an endearing pug, uses his own history of defeats to develop a fight plan so that the three aspirants -- onetime gangbanger Noel Santiago, former Golden Gloves champ George Walton, and female boxer Tyrene Manson -- can battle their own demons. Shot on handheld video, the film is full of dramatic developments: When Manson is sent to prison on a questionable crack conviction, Keitt finds himself as the only man in her corner. Despite the constant setbacks and violent environment, Keitt's influence proves a consistent winner -- much like this oddly sensitive and satisfying film.
All Movie Guide
If documentaries got pitched to studios, this one might have been described as "Hoop Dreams with boxers." On the Ropes adopts the same format as that seminal 1994 basketball documentary, as producers/directors Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen choose to follow three volatile young athletes without any possible awareness of where the story will go. It's captivating to watch the unexpected events unfold. It's also commendable that the filmmakers didn't abandon Tyrene Manson, arguably the most driven of the three, when she was falsely arrested for drug possession near the start of filming. Instead, they shifted from the ring to the courtroom, just as expertly documenting the disinterested defense by her court-appointed attorney and the heartlessness of a legal system that seems to have railroaded her. In fact, it's amazing the courtroom access Burstein and Morgen were given, especially with the tragicomic ineptitude that they capture on film. The segments involving Noel Santiago and George Walton may feature more actual boxing, but they don't have the same resonance as Manson's heartbreaking story line, nor the poignancy of the proud struggles of their trainer, Harry Keitt, who is too often taken for granted. The action between the ropes is not particularly exciting, but it's not the film's focus -- it rightly concentrates on the doubt, fear, and hope that dances in the boxers' eyes and hides behind their words. On the Ropes was nominated for a 2000 Oscar, and Walton and Manson married as a result of getting to know each other through the film.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/25/2000
  • UPC: 720917520827
  • Original Release: 1999
  • Rating:

  • Source: Fox Lorber
  • Region Code: 0
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Pan & Scan / Stereo
  • Sound: stereo
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:30:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Harry Keitt Interviewee
Randy Little Interviewee
Technical Credits
Nanette Burstein Director, Editor, Producer
Brett Morgen Director, Cinematographer, Producer
Nancy Baker Editor
Jonathan Cohen Executive Producer
Web Davis Score Composer
Jennifer Fox Executive Producer
Juan Carlos Martinez Sound/Sound Designer
Jesse Moss Associate Producer
Alan Oxman Editor
Theodore Shapiro Score Composer
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