Glass Jaw (2018)

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A boxer loses it all and searches to redeem himself in this indie drama from director Jeff Celentano.

As a kid, Travis Austin was abandoned by his family, but he would eventually find himself becoming a professional boxer. He would find himself in a fight for the title with help from Eddy, his trainer. When Travis wins the championship, he celebrates by holding a party at home with girlfriend Dana, Eddy, Eddy’s daughter Ashley, and best friend Joe, who has returned from a prison stint for drug possession. Joe is looking to go straight and could use Travis’ help. However, the next day, Ashley is found dead of an accidental drug overdose. While Travis didn’t know there were drugs there, he takes the rap for the fact it happened at his house.

After a four-year sentence, Travis is out of prison. He learns that Joe has gone straight and has become a boxer himself, with Eddie as his trainer. However, he is stunned to learn that Joe had an affair with Dana while he was imprisoned. While Dana admits it happened one time, Travis is still livid and he feels like he lost it all. When he gets a job as the sweeper for Frank Maloney’s gym, he is berated daily by the veteran trainer. However, when Frank’s boxer is injured before a title match is to be set with Joe, Travis offers to train and take the fight himself. As Travis begins to prepare for the fight, he finds himself reuniting with his estranged father and Dana, but he knows he is ready to take on his former best friend in the ring to turn his life around.

This film is quite interesting in that the four screenwriters came up with the elements of the story while director Jeff Celentano brought it all together to make a smoothly paced film about the road to redemption for a boxer who is lost, then gains only to lose it again, then go on that road to gain again. Star, producer, and co-writer Lee Kholafai gives quite a presence as Travis, the boxer who finds himself fighting a new kind of battle after a young woman accidentally dies while he is holding a party. This leads to a downward spiral that lands him in prison. The boxing scenes are good to watch, even when Travis eventually goes on a downward spiral forcing him to fight both in prison and in an underground bare knuckle brawl just to get by.

Veteran Jon Gries makes the most of his role as Travis’ estranged father, who tries to explain his situation as to why he left Travis and attempts to reunite with him when he is imprisoned. However, there is more as to what happened and it becomes only a stepping stone to redemption for Travis. Mark Rolston of Rush Hour fame gets to unleash a tirade as Frank Maloney, a veteran boxing gym owner who sees Travis as washed-up but offers him a job as the sweeper of the gym while continuing to berate him on all levels. Vernon Wells makes the most of a cameo appearance as Happy, a mystery man who is responsible for Mr. Austin’s troubles and thus, forcing him to do the unbelievable when it comes to Travis.

Reynaldo Gallegos brings a ton of emotions as Eddy, Travis’ boxing trainer who finds himself absolutely betrayed when his daughter Ashley dies of an accidental overdose at Travis’ home. As for Brandon Sklenar, his character of Joe is one that you may want to feel sympathy for first but then realize that he is really a scumbag who only tends to look out for himself and goes as far as betraying his own best friend while Korrina Rico’s Dana seems mostly loyal to Travis, even though making one small mistake tears them apart, but only temporary.

Glass Jaw has a great meaning as the film’s central ex-boxer looks has to be knocked down in order to get back up and that he does, thanks to some driven performances by its cast.

WFG RATING: B

Vision Films presents an Eleven Seven Productions and AZ Film Studios production in association with Masque Studios Utah and Tommy V Productions. Director: Jeff Celentano. Producers: Lee Kholafai, Korrina Rico, Steve Perry, and Zeus Zamani. Writers: Lee Kholafai, Korrina Rico, Brandon Espy, and Michael Testa. Cinematography: Jeffrey L. Kimball. Editing: Michael Testa and Lisa Ystrom.

Cast: Lee Kholafai, Korrina Rico, Brandon Sklenar, Jon Gries, Mark Rolston, Reynaldo Gallegos, Brandon Espy, Vernon Wells, Dana Melanie, Jamie Camil, Lil’ Boosie, Brandon Espy.

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