Six Rounds (2017)
Directed by: Marcus Flemmings | 55 minutes | drama | Actors: Karishma Bhandari, Phoebe Torrance, Adam J. Bernard, Daniel Johns, Chris Rochester, Santino Zicchi, Lesley Molony, Rob Peacock, Joseph Warner, Marcus Adjmul, Carolyn English, Thomasin Lockwood
Even before unrest erupted in the US following the violent death of teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, riots had broken out in London and numerous other major British cities. Hundreds of mostly youthful rioters set fire to cars, shops and houses, looted terrified entrepreneurs and attacked police officers. In total, the riots, which lasted six days, claimed the lives of five people. The immediate cause of all that unrest was the death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan a few days earlier. When he resisted arrest, he was hit twice by a police bullet. Duggan himself was unarmed. That it all got so out of hand is partly due to social inequality, the economic crisis, skyrocketing unemployment and the fact that in Great Britain it is virtually impossible to work your way up from a low social class. Talented British filmmaker Marcus Flemmings decided to use the riots as the backdrop for his 55-minute feature film ‘Six Rounds’ (2017), about a boxer who, as much as he wants to, can’t seem to shake his shadowy past. .
Flemmings lays his cards on the table in the first few minutes: this isn’t just any boxing film, but one shot in stylish black and white (and a splash of color here and there), with daring and carefully chosen shots and camera angles. A film that passes us by in a remarkable way – namely in six rounds of boxing – and with themes that are clearly close to Flemmings’ heart. Adam J. Bernard is a true discovery as Stally, a black boy trying to end his old life as a boxer. As a boxer, he was a great champion, but shady things were happening around the boxing ring. Once outside the ring, he hooked up with a pretty girlfriend (Phoebe Torrance) and found work as a representative for a gas supplier. But then it turns out that his old boxing buddy Chris (Santino Zicchi) is in trouble. He asks him to step into the boxing ring one more time, fight him and then lose. Then his manager (Daniel John) gets paid and all problems are gone. Stally doesn’t really want to, and certainly not to step out of the ring as a loser – that’s to his credit. Nevertheless, he lets Chris put himself in front of him.
In the short time he has (the film barely lasts an hour) and with minimal resources, Flemmings knows how to pull out all the stops for an impressive story. Thanks to the build-up in ’rounds’ you know what we are working towards: the fight is the climax. Visually, ‘Six Rounds’ has more to offer than narrative, although with Stally and Chris in particular he manages to create two interesting characters (of course helped by the strong playing actors) and the finale is one that keeps on shuddering. The dialogues are a bit contrived here and there and some scenes feel out of place; Phoebe Torrance in particular is the victim of this. The link to the London riots has not been brought in to draw attention, but gives a sort of deeper emotional layer to the whole. Flemmings also manages to add some nuance by not only pointing out that the riots were political protests, but at the same time reprimanding the opportunists who have been rummaging around in shop windows. ‘Six Rounds’ is a low-budget production that is on the right track in many ways, with its own style full of visual flair and a daring concept. That tastes like more!