The past catches up with a ruthlessly ambitious boxing promoter.
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Billy Simpson is a shady boxing promoter in South London banned from legitimate fights. It's the biggest day of his life, though, because he has a champion on his hands, his 20-year-old son, Eddie. Billy's put all his money on a victory, as have his quarreling daughters. But Eddie is nervous, an odd guy in a cap is hanging about, the licensed promoter Billy has hired to arrange the evening's other fights has hired dogs, the manager of Eddie's opponent looks down scornfully on Billy and on South London, and Scotland Yard wants to Billy in gaol for the death of a club brawler. When the night goes disastrously wrong, Billy tries to find out who double-crossed him.
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Sir Michael Caine seems to be spending most of his time these days on home soil making home-grown movies, some good (little voice), and some appalling (shadow run). Shiner is Caine back to his best, and it's a role in which he didn't have to act as he was virtually playing a character that mirrored his own life, a working class south Londoner, that has moved on to better things. Billy Shiner Simpson, is a streetwise boxing promoter and organizer of un-licensed or illegal bouts. He not only has connections within the criminal underworld but he also has his fingers in many a dodgy pie. He finally has the option of fulfilling his dream of a major Legal bout in the form of a title fight between his son Eddie, the boy from blighty, matched up against Martin Landau's American fighter. Shiner has put all his money on his lad winning the fight and the title, but all is not well, His partner is pocketing money given to hire fighters for the preliminary bouts, his son is loosing his nerve, The old bill want to arrest him for his role in the death of an unlicensed boxer, and the night is about to get a lot more sinister and deadly, as after loosing the fight, his son is shot dead by a faceless assassin. Caine plays his part brilliantly, similar in style to his portrayal of Jack Carter in 1971's Get Carter, Shiners character is not as cool as Carter in his quest for revenge and is a bit more desperate, but every bit as ruthless. Aided by his two bodyguards, Stoney and Mel (played brilliantly by Andy 'Gollum' Serkis) He must now put the pieces of his shattered dream together and punish those responsible for his sons death. a gritty and uncompromising look at London's boxing culture made even more effective that the character of Shiner Simpson, though fictional for this movie, is a composite amalgam of a group people that really exist in today's London. This is one of Caine's best roles of his long career and certainly his best since the turn of the Milena.
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