In this debut story told in the form of a screenplay, two brothers consider returning to the kickboxing ring in the hope of one last payday.
As teenagers, Paul and John train and compete as kickboxers together. Paul is a serious talent and favored by the boys’ tough-love father, but John makes up for what he lacks in artistry with a whole lot of firepower—he’ll defend himself with his fists at all costs, both in the ring and on the streets. After the glory days of their youth pass them by, Paul struggles alongside their parents to earn enough money to pay off their greedy landlord despite their hard, honest work on the family farm. Meanwhile, John succumbs to the easy temptations of booze and women—not to mention a bar fight or two. Paul eventually signs up for one last fight in the hope of earning enough money to save the farm, while John finds himself being drawn back into the sport through less respectable channels: street fights for cash. Will either brother be able to defeat the reigning kickboxing champion, the ruthless Tango, and find redemption? Debut author de Klerk creates two believable blue-collar brothers fighting to survive in a tough, often cruel world. In its best moments, the story packs a powerful emotional punch. However, the strange decision to tell the story in the form of a screenplay, as opposed to a novel, misfires due to clunky scene directions and awkward narration, as in a voice-over by John: “Michael never got to be champion and dropped out of the sport. Tim lost all interest in life and just lives from day to day. Paul never won a championship; will he ever get his Mercedes?” Although the story itself is appealing, the way it’s told becomes as tiring as 12 rounds in the ring.
Another take on the beloved boxing-drama genre, strong in its gritty detail but weak in its form.