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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Compelling messages about never giving up and the importance of fighting for a chance to live and protect your family. Duane's story also promotes trusting your heart and realizing that love comes with responsibility.
Positive Role Models
Duane tries to mentor Jaden and help him be the best boxer he can manage. Jaden selflessly wants to win matches to help his mom out of a bad financial situation and get better health care. Jaden's mom loves him and wants him to be safe.
Violence & Scariness
Boxing is an inherently violent sport, leaving the fighters bloody and bruised, and there are several scenes of ringside violence. Also an upsetting scene of a sick mother needing to be hospitalized.
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"Bastard," "damn," "hell," "stupid."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Challenger is an indie boxing drama that's been promoted as the final movie of character actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who died in 2012. Written, directed, and starring Kent Moran, the film draws on much that's expected about the sports movie genre. Viewers can expect some ringside violence, an upsetting scene of a sick mom being hospitalized, and minor language ("bastard," "damn," "hell"), but it's really the wince-inducing boxing and the gritty setting that makes this one better suited for older tweens and up. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Other than seeing the late, great Duncan one last time, there's nothing remarkable about writer-director-star Moran's predictably inspiring boxing flick. With far better boxing movies available, from classics like Raging Bull and Rocky to more recent fare like Southpaw, it's unlikely that audiences will feel compelled to see this middling addition the genre, especially considering that the film's actual boxing scenes are so underwhelming and uninspired.
Duncan and S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Jaden's adoptive mother, a retired social worker, are by far the best performers in the movie, making the best of their cliched characters -- the wise and steadfast boxing mentor and the ill single mother who's always believed in her son. Although Moran looks the part, fit and fast, he's disappointingly bland as a hungry wannabe boxer who defies expectations.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.