[box cover]

Body and Soul (1998)

In 1985 Robert Klouse made Gymkata with Kurt Thomas, and in doing so made the definitive example of how some talents don't translate to the big screen. Thomas, a renowned gymnast, was put in an action movie which had him fighting villains using a pommel horse. Yes, a pommel horse. Not helping things was that Thomas wasn't much of an actor, so he was at his best doing things that related to his gymnast skills, which (by the way) were then meant to be fatal. And yet, every once in a while an athlete tries to make the leap to the big or small screen without having the requisite talents required to hold a show together. Someone should have screened Gymkata for Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini and writer director Sam Henry Kass, because they might have saved themselves the trouble of making 1998's Body and Soul, a semi-remake of the 1947 Robert Rossen/John Garfield film of the same name. Mancini plays Charlie 'Kid' Davis, a small town boxer who leaves home after his father dies. His sidekick is narrator Tiny O'Toole (Micahel Chiklis, patiently waiting for The Shield to resurrect his career), who drives him to Vegas hoping to set The Kid up with trainer Johnny Ticotin (Rod Stieger, also embarrassed). Along the way they pick up hitchhiker Gina (Jennifer Beals) who The Kid falls for. In Vegas they impress Ticotin and get in the hands of boxing promoter Alex Dumas (Joe Mantegna) and his kept woman Felice Gillian (Tawnee Welch), whom The Kid falls for. As The Kid's stock rises, he's meant to be manipulated by Dumas and kept from Tiny, but eventually he might learn the error of his ways. Formulaic to a fault, the biggest problem with Body and Soul, besides Chiklis's narration — which is applied so liberally it's like an oregano sandwich — is that Mancini is never a convincing actor outside of the ring. In fact, one can tell he had problems with the dialogue — often the editing cuts away from him talking simply to hide his line-reading problems. The best moment in the movie is when Mantegna asks a group of naked, silicone enhanced, bubble-bath taking would-be starlets "How do you like those bubbles, girls?" in the middle of a party. Someone, somewhere must have thought it was a good idea to put Mancini in a movie. Obviously, that's one of the few people on earth who could have benefited from screening Gymkata. MGM presents Body and Soul in full frame and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. No extras, keep-case.

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