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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Boxing > Tough Enough (1983/Boxing)

Tough Enough

 

Picture: C+   Sound: C+   Extras: C-   Film: C-

 

 

Tough Enough (1983) is a countrified Rocky wannabe that just isn't good enough.  It feels as if it were made to cash in on trends from the era in which it was produced: The underdog-triumphs Cinderella story of Rocky combined with the Southern-fried atmosphere that characterized a lot of popular movies during the late 1970s and early 1980s -- a time when Burt Reynolds was the No. 1 box-office star, Clint Eastwood made a couple of hit movies co-starring an orangutan, John Travolta played an Urban Cowboy and Dolly Parton was just becoming a film star.

 

Dennis Quaid stars as Art Long, the film's Rocky Balboa figure.  Art is struggling to make a living at a regular job he hates, but has a passion for singing Country & Western music.  Art dreams of pursuing a career as a Country singer, but has a wife (Carlene Watkins) and young son to support.

 

One day, while walking down a Fort Worth, Texas street, Art sees a sign advertising a local toughman contest promising a $5,000 payday to the winner.  He signs up and soon finds himself competing in a boxing tournament run by a shady promoter named Neese (Warren Oates).  The winner of the Fort Worth tournament will take home $5,000 and move on to a bigger tournament in Detroit against other "toughest men" from around the U.S. that pays $100,000 to the winner.

 

After a black boxer named P.T. (Stan Shaw) gets cheated from victory by Neese, he ends up volunteering to be Art's manager.  With P.T. in his corner, Art, now nicknamed the Country & Western Warrior, ends up winning in Fort Worth.  And because Neese promises him a chance to sing on national television, Art agrees to participate in the Detroit finals.

 

With Art's wife, P.T and P.T's girlfriend (Pam Grier) in tow, it's off to the Motor City for predictable results -- Art's father (Wilford Brimley) initially says he won't make the trip to Detroit to see his son fight, but this is the kind of movie where it comes as no surprise when he shows up anyway.

 

Tough Enough is one of the later films of the undervalued Richard Fleischer (The Vikings, The Boston Strangler, Soylent Green), who wasn't getting offers to direct much top-drawer material by this point.  It's also the last film released starring Oates, who died in April, 1982 of a heart attack at the age of 53.  This one was filmed before, but got released a couple weeks after Blue Thunder, the final film Oates acted in.

 

The most entertaining moments in the unconvincing, mostly forgettable Tough Enough come from the parade of colorful characters who participate in the toughman competitions, and a funny scene in which Art performs a zany song for his little boy called "The Jungle" (written by Quaid himself).

 

Tough Enough is the latest Fox catalog title released by Anchor Bay.  It's presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital Mono sound.  The only extras are the original theatrical trailer for this film and three other Fox titles currently available on DVD from Anchor Bay, Downtown, Death Hunt and Off Limits.

 

 

- Chuck O'Leary


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