Billy 'Shiner' Simpson, Michael Caine, is a second-rate boxing promoter who faces arrest for an illegal bare-knuckle fight he staged in which a man was killed. Shiner's son, Eddie, Matthew Mardsen, is about to fight a prominent American which may give him a chance at the world title - and this, Shiner feels, will be his moment of real glory and triumph. One of his daughters, Ruth, Claire Rushbrook, prepares for the celebrations which will take place after her brother wins the fight, but his other daughter, Georgie, Frances Barber, who is married to a lawyer, is bitterly opposed to her father. Accompanied everywhere by a pair of bodyguards, Frank Harper and Andy Serkis, Shiner finds himself in an increasingly exposed and dangerous situation, especially in the fateful hours after the fight takes place. This depiction of a minor British gangster succeeds to a point in evoking a seedy atmosphere of East End bad guys - it's a corrupt world of fixed fights, ruthless speculators and killers. Caine is very good as the not very bright and not very likable Shiner, and there are plenty of other colorful characters around him, especially Andy Serkis, so memorable as Gollum in Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, as Mel, a bodyguard who maybe isn't completely loyal to his boss. John Irvin directs without a great deal of distinction, and for Australian audiences it's interesting to hear the moody, jazzy music score by our own Paul Grabowsky. But Shiner is, at times, almost intolerably violent and nihilistic, which is probably why the film, made three years ago, has taken so long to get to us.
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