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Fighters (1992)

Courtesy of Team Pictures

Main image of Fighters (1992)
35mm, 101 minutes; colour
Written, Directed 
and Edited byRon Peck
Production CompanyTeam Pictures
Commissioning CompanyChannel Four
ProducerMark Ayres
MusicAdrian James Carbutt

The fighters: Mark Kaylor; Dean Hollington; Mark Tibbs; Bradley Stone; Jimmy Flint; Jason Rowland; Terry Dixon; Jimmy Peters; Jimmy Tibbs; Roy Rowland

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A glimpse into the harsh lives of professional boxers, this follows East End fighters as they train to take the first steps up the professional ladder and former British and Commonwealth Middleweight champion, Mark Kaylor, making a come-back bid.

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Fighters (d. Ron Peck, 1991) is both a documentary and a personal essay film. Alongside the interviews with the boxers preparing for their fights, the filmmaker digresses into meditations on the nature of fighting and what draws human beings towards it. He explains the vicarious pleasure of blood-letting, the drama and the spectacle.

Cut between the interviews are reconstructed sequences in black and white, showing the beauty of the fight and the human body in combat. At times the film takes on a homoerotic flavour as the camera focuses on the boxers' muscles rippling and the fetishistic nature of the fight preparations as they bind their hands and have their torsos rubbed down with oil. At other times, the filmmaker talks about his love for boxing films and how these images drew him into the world of boxing itself.

Overall, though, the film has a tremendous respect for these men and boys who are prepared to sacrifice so much - family life, drinking with mates, their physical safety - in pursuit of excellence in the ring. Even though the line between success and failure is a fine one, through boxing they can rise above the poverty of their backgrounds and achieve something to be proud of.

Helen de Witt

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Video Clips
1. Through the mirror (3:33)
2. In the movies (6:32)
Real Money (1996)
Peck, Ron (1948-)
Channel 4 and Film