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Million $ baby KOs competition, skeptics

by Kyle Galdeira, Sports editor

 

Pursuing a dream can be difficult. Million Dollar Baby is a rags-to-riches story in which Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) struggles to overcome a variety of obstacles in order to become a professional boxing champion.

Clint Eastwood plays the role of Frankie Dunn, a boxing trainer who owns and operates The Hit Pit, a boxing gym in Los Angeles. Dunn has trained and managed numerous talented fighters, but his conservative approach to selecting their fights has led boxers to dump him and eventually win titles under new managers.

 

In addition to his problems in the gym, Dunn is trying to establish a relationship between himself and his estranged daughter. He writes her a letter every week with the hope that she will forgive him for an unidentified occurrence 23 years earlier. However, each letter gets sent back unopened and labeled, “Return to Sender.” He tries to forgive himself by attending Mass each week.

Fitzgerald is a 31-year-old waitress living paycheck to paycheck and surviving off of partially eaten food she scrapes from her customer’s plates (“It’s for my dog,” she says after being discovered). When she asks Dunn to train her, he flatly declines and tells her he doesn’t work with girls.

Despite the discouraging words, Fitzgerald continues to train alone at the gym during her limited time away from the diner. Her awkward attempts at hitting the punching bag are mocked by the male fighters in the gym but her relentless practice routine draws the attention of the gym’s caretaker, Eddie “Scrap Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman).

Dunn had trained Dupris who lost an eye in what turned out to be his final fight. He spends each day cleaning and maintaining the gym and notices how hard Fitzgerald is working. Feeling sorry that her efforts weren’t resulting in improvement, he secretly teaches her some basic boxing techniques and encourages her to go after her dream while she is still physically able.

Fitzgerald continues to nag Dunn about training her, stubbornly refusing to take no for an answer. On her 32nd birthday she tells Dunn that the only thing she wants to do in life is become a boxing champion and that anything else would not be worth living for. Dunn agrees to train her, but only if she promises not to question his methods and most importantly, to always protect herself.

Fitzgerald learns the boxing technique she has been lacking and starts fighting other women. She is so strong and agile that she knocks out her opponents with ease, and her fights are over before they really get started. She becomes so highly regarded that Dunn has to pay other managers on the side in order to get them to put their boxers in the ring with Fitzgerald.

As the unlikely pair captures the attention of the boxing world, both student and teacher begin to see each other as family. Dunn looks at Fitzgerald as if she was the daughter he could never have while the boxer sees her mentor as the father figure that she had been without since the death of her dad while she was a child.

Fitzgerald works her way up the ranks and earns a fight for the championship against the best—and dirtiest—female fighter in the world, Billie “The Blue Bear” (Lucia Rijker). It is during the fight that the story takes a dramatic turn and the two become a family.

Million Dollar Baby has been the recipient of critical acclaim and is nominated for Best Picture and six other Oscars in the upcoming Academy Awards: Actor in a leading role (Eastwood), Actor in a supporting role (Freeman), Actress in a leading role (Swank), Directing (Eastwood), Film editing, and Writing from an adaptive screenplay.

At the Golden Globe Awards held in January, Eastwood took home the award for best director and Swank was named best actress in a motion picture-drama. The film is rated PG-13 due to violence and coarse language.

 

2004, Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved.
 
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