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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English - Hearing Impaired
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Featurette - Making of
Shiner (Rental)
Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 95 mins . M15+ . PAL


Coming from the new school of gangster films, Shiner exposes the underworld of the boxing ring, where illegal fights leave people dead and so do very public professional bouts we see on pay TV.

Shiner is Billy ‘Shiner’ Simpson, an ex-boxer gone into the underground world of illegal matches for 30-ish years. Finally granted a promoter’s license, he imports the world title holder for a bout with his own son, The Golden Boy. Unfortunately, however, a boxer who has lain in a coma for the last 18 months after one of Shiner’s underground matches just died, leaving the police asking some very awkward questions. But these will be asked tomorrow, because today is The Best Day of Shiner’s Life. The local lad is gonna whip the champion and Shiner will finally get the respect he’s wanted all these years.

The trouble is, though, that Shiner is in all sorts of trouble, as are those around him. His bodyguards have taken care of a lesser promoter who chose poor opponents for the warm-up bouts. Shiner’s daughters are at opposite ends of the spectrum; one devout and helpful as the world crumbles, the other setting about to make sure if her father goes down, she’s gonna grab all the money first. The Golden Boy, wrestling his inner demons that his father has oversold him on confidence and Shiner himself, financially overstretched and under immense pressure that he may not be able to hold up under.

This is a well made and involving film that I, in my capacity for not really thinking all that much of boxing, truthfully enjoyed. More about the follies of gangsterhood and overcommittal, this is an earthy tale of one man’s rise from the gutter and whether or not he’ll be able to stand amid what he finds on the other side of it.

Based loosely on Shakespeare’s King Lear, this has obviously been modified and played about with for a modern audience, and it works on many levels. At times humourous, at others quite violent. Sometimes poetic and sometimes just plain old entertaining, this is yet another Michael Caine film where he gets his teeth deep into a role and shakes it like hell. Great gangster viewing.


Completed in 2000, this is a very nice looking transfer indeed. Practically artefact-free with nice even colours and saturations, the picture quality is sharp and clean. Flesh tones are even and well lit at times to reflect an individual character’s mood. There are some moments of graininess throughout, with the most evident one being between 1:25:39-52. This doesn’t really detract from the film much, but as it’s mid-ending, it is a little startling. Otherwise, top notch stuff.

Dolby Digital stereo or 5.1 surround is granted us here as choices, and while both mixes are great, my money is on the 5.1. Dialogue is well spoken, and even with multiple accents and inflections flying about, it is easily registered and understood. Sound effects are good here, with the wet thumps of the boxing ring being a highlight (!) and some nice crowd surrounds during the main match. Occasional gunfire is a little lacking, however, sounding a lot less like gunfire than a bird smacking a window really hard. However, this is rarely used and doesn’t affect things much. Musically the film has been scored by our own Paul Grabowsky and he has done a nice job of creating the lurid world of the promoters or reflective backing of particular events. He has managed to add a gritty, real-life feel to the soundtrack as well, which fits in perfectly with the mood of the film. There are some featured tracks from artists like AC/DC and Gay Dad, but mostly we are granted The Count’s very smooth and jazzy score. A nice sound package.

Well, even for a rental, we get a small selection to keep everyone happy. Whilst only two, with one being the trailer (running for 2:01 at 1.85:1 sans 16:9), the other is the winner. A 19:52 length making of that has been made for the telly, obviously, as it features a good deal of film footage that stretches it out. Incorporating soundbite interviews with Michael Caine, producer Geoff Reeve, director John Irvin, Frank Harper and Martin Landau, this is quite interesting. While the usual fare, this does give some interesting information about the storyline that is quite worthy for a rental.

A definite surprise is this one, with some very gritty performances coming out among the grubby interweaving storyline. As a rental I totally recommend it, with the extras adding the cherry to the frosting. Great acting, great methodology in the telling and, while not a complicated story, one well worth the viewing.

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  •   And I quote...
    "A slow progression down the greasy slope of professional and illegal boxing told with finesse and a certain gangster style."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
    • Speakers:
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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