A fatalistic film noir about a washed-up boxer, THE DESTINY OF MARTY FINE just throws the same punch, many times over.
Marty Fine (Alan Gelfant) is an ex-boxer of Russian-Jewish descent, whose life is on the ropes. He begs for seed money from mob boss Capelli (Michael Ironside) to start his own pugilistic training camp; no sooner has he managed to interest the icy crook than Capelli gets rubbed out by assassins
connected with gangster Daryl (Norman Fell). Rather than eliminate Marty as a witness, Daryl tries to convince the boxer to yield to his "destiny" and turn hit man. He sends Marty to plug a small-time hoodlum who owes him. Marty can't go through with the murder, and instead he wanders around old
haunts, usually mooching and always getting the cold shoulder, from his girlfriend Lena (Catherine Keener), his neurotic car repairman Grill (James LeGros), his old gym pals, even his taxi-dancer sister Amy (Katherine Lanasa). After enounters with nouveau riche Russian mafioso, philosophical
barflies and a maternal bag lady, Marty ends up enjoying a free meal at the restaurant where Lena works. On his way to ask Daryl for clemency, Marty finds him dining amicably with the hoodlum Marty was ordered to kill. This time, when the target heads for the restroom, Marty finishes the job.
THE DESTINY OF MARTY FINE looks great thanks to Melinda Sue Gordon's clean black-and-white cinematography, and takes place in a timeless version of pulp-fiction LA, full of rinky-dink saloons and Spanish-colonial houses. The hardboiled story that director Michael Hacker chalk-outlines here,
however, is strictly small-time, a series of repetitive and dramatically stagnant vignettes in which the pathetically self-deluded hero gets slapped down again and again as he goes scrounging for handouts. Character relations and motivations are cloudy, to say the least, and it doesn't help that
lead Alan Gelfant (NEXT STOP, WONDERLAND), gamely onscreen for virtually the whole movie, looks too young for the pug he's supposed to be playing, a guy with 23 years of ring experience (or thereabouts; punchdrunk Marty can no longer keep the figures straight in his head). Despite Gelfant's
efforts, the movie starts feeling like a thespian exercise, Brando's "I coulda been a contender!" speech from ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) attenuated to feature length. A number of seasoned character actors put in memorable but one-shot appearances that don't add up to much in this downbeat little
requiem for a lightweight. (Violence, profanity, substance abuse.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: A fatalistic film noir about a washed-up boxer, THE DESTINY OF MARTY FINE just throws the same punch, many times over. Marty Fine (Alan Gelfant) is an ex-boxer of Russian-Jewish descent, whose life is on the ropes. He begs for seed money from mob boss Ca… (more)