Blake Lively was originally cast as Jackie Justice, but when Halle Berry became the director she replaced Lively with herself. She probably did a favor for the athletic Lively, Berry’s work as director is nothing to write home about and the screenplay by Michelle Rosenfarb lacks creativity.
The story of Jackie Justice (Berry) introduces us to a woman who appears lost in a life filled with alcohol and dreams of when she was a champion (MMA) mixes martial arts fighter. She lives with an abusive boy friend who offers no emotional support and belts her around. Her mother appears to have no interest in her daughter and is hesitant to allow Justice to spend time living with her. Add to the forces pressing on Jackie Justice suddenly Manny (Danny Boyd) appears on the porch barefoot and lost. We quickly learn he is Justice’s son and his father has passed on. The kid is not something Justice wants in her life,
Justice reveals that she was abused as a teen by her other’s boy friends. She finds there are barriers to her return to the ring where she has a chance to earn money to care for herself and little Manny who does not speak.
Justice, is beaten by her lover, in a city place where very few folks are decent toward each other. Stephen McKinley who plays Pops is a seasoned trainer in an effective way is one of the few folks she can trust. She also finds comfort in another trainer Bobbi played strongly by Sheila Atim which we can understand after the treatment she has received from men in her life.
The downward and dismal city is the atmosphere she lives in and it dominates the film and does not provide a dramatic atmosphere to bring understanding and support for Justice.
For those interested in MMA the late scenes which portray a battering bruising battle between Jackie Justice and Lady Killer (Velentina Shevchenko) probably lasts too long but it is rough enough to appear to be real and over the top.
Other than the final battle, there is little to watch in this film.