HeartBreak (2019)

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The story of redemption and the underdog mesh quite well in this indie film which marks the final film for filmmaker Ralph Clemente, who passed away during post-production.

Harry Platt is a former war veteran and billiards champion who has virtually lost everything. He has abandoned his daughter, who is currently serving time in prison due to bad judgment. His wife has left him. He spends his nights winning money by playing pool in the bars with help from war busy and best friend George. However, one day, Harry’s life is about to change when he meets Mina Lee, a Korean single mother who has a mission of life in her mind and needs Harry’s experience to accomplish that mission.

Mina wants to become the number one female pool player but doesn’t have the skills necessary to achieve that. The reason is that Mina’s son, Jong Son, is autistic and needs the money to help take care of his needs. Harry, at first, reluctantly agrees to take Mina under his wing. Things don’t go well at first, but as they continue their training, Harry begins to do the right thing and slowly changes his ways. He makes attempts to reconnect with his daughter and after doing her a favor, the two once again bond. Meantime, Mina slowly makes her way at learning the game. Despite some major roadblocks, a major tournament which has the number one pool player in the United States today, is competing. Will Mina and Harry overcome their personal issues and overcome the odds?

Based on events involving the sport of billiards, this emotional drama from director Ralph Clemente does well as meshing two subgenres. The first is the “road to redemption” story as it pertains to one lead character and that of the “underdog”, which pertains to our other lead character. Bruce Wood’s script is based on the events in the life of Wayne Catledge, who is an expert pool player who was training female billiards players in Asia and brought those experiences in the film.

Chemistry between leads is very important in a film and here, despite tense moments throughout, the chemistry between leads Brett Rice and Jane Park Smith is definitely spot on here. The two characters of Harry and Mina are truly tortured souls whose bond as mentor and student improves on their individual problems. In Harry’s case, it’s about redemption in the eyes of his daughter and estranged wife. In Mina’s case, it’s about helping her autistic son. What helps in the film is that Rice is more than an actor. He’s an actual pool player himself and his experience suits him perfectly for the role. As for Smith, an actress more known for bit parts in films, impresses in the co-lead role.

The pool scenes are quite fun to watch as well as we see Mina go from zero to one who has the potential to become a top contender. The fact that the film features the legend that is Ewa Mataya Laurence may remind some fans of snooker ace Jimmy White appearing in the Stephen Chow film Legend of the Dragon in 1991. However, it is clear that Lawrence, much like the character she plays as herself, has nothing but the utmost respect for her opponents and Mina is no different. Of course, the film brings a bit of predictability, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is quite a worthy indie drama worth checking out.

HeartBreak is the Rocky of the billiards world, but adds some depth in terms of redemption for the mentor, fueled by a natural sense of chemistry between Brett Rice and Jane Park Smith.

WFG RATING: B+

Random Media presents a West 31 Entertainment production in association with Bad Spaghetti Entertainment, Bruce Wood Films, Lady Samurai Entertainment, and Valencia Motion Pictures. Director: Ralph Clemente. Producer: Randy Dyer. Writer: Bruce Wood; story by Wayne Catledge and Garry Westcott. Cinematography: Anthony Realmuto. Editing: Oliver Peters.

Cast: Brett Rice, Jane Park Smith, Dennis Neal, Piper Rae Patterson, J. LaRose, Karen LeBlanc, Michael Houston, Hank Stone, Amy Fox, Andrew Kang, Ewa Mataya Laurence, Mitchell Laurence.

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