On the Ropes


Generally favorable reviews - based on 13 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 13
  2. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Exceptional, powerful new documentary.
  2. 100
    A sports documentary as gripping, in a different way, as "Hoop Dreams."
  3. Reviewed by: David Davis
    Jolts with a quiet intimacy.
  4. 90
    Walking out of the theater, I felt so bereft that I couldn't speak. And it doesn't hurt any less thinking about the movie now, as I write this.
  5. Reviewed by: Matt Williams
    The documentary has no narration, and uses excellent expository camerawork to say things that no narrator could equal.
  6. Reviewed by: Renee Graham
    Has the impact of a left-right combination to the chin.
  7. In recording life as it unfolds in the course of a year, On the Ropes not only defies prediction as to its outcome but is in some ways downright confounding...as involving and suspenseful as the best fictional films.
  8. Reviewed by: Rod Dreher
    What the film lacks in freshness...it makes up for in its sympathetic and compelling portrayal of its subjects.
  9. Isn't so emotionally powerful as the Oscar-winning "When We Were Kings" but which -- in its more intimate way -- still packs a punch.
  10. Reviewed by: Gary Dauphin
    Burstein and Morgen take all this in from an unobtrusive middle distance, letting the subjects themselves slowly complicate the profusion of athletic and ghetto-real clichés that fly scattershot in the early going.
  11. 70
    Often technically rough, but it's painfully compelling.
  12. 60
    The material is powerful--one boxer has been accused of a crime and the trial conflicts with a crucial competition--but much of it feels predigested, the themes inadvertently one-dimensional.
  13. Reviewed by: Edvins Beitiks
    The story of a trainer and three of his boxers trying to break away from the confines of a gym in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Each story is strong, gripping in its own way. But you've heard them all before.

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