Glass Jaw is a boxing redemption story that follows the playbook without taking any chances and fails to get through the first round.
Glass Jaw is from director Jeff Celentano (Breaking Point), starring Lee Kholafai (You Have a Nice Flight), Korrina Rico (Horrible Bosses 2) and Brandon Sklenar (Vice). This is a boxing drama about redemption; one man reclaiming what he lost, which was everything.
The Glass Jaw story follows Travis Austin (Kholafai), a man that has come from a troubled childhood, rising to become the light-heavyweight champion of the world. He lives a life of luxury and celebrates in style. Tragedy strikes at his celebration party when his trainer Eddy’s (Reynaldo Gallegos, Logan) daughter Ashley (Dana Melanie, Treehouse) dies of a drug overdose. Travis takes the blame, giving up his title and serving a prison sentence for manslaughter. Once released, Travis sees his old sparring partner Joe (Sklenar) now holds his light-heavyweight title, his girlfriend Dana (Rico) has left him, and the boxing community blames him for what happened. Travis must prove that he can still fight in the ring, even if it means cleaning the gyms of the up and coming fighters; all this just for a chance to put his life back together and learn the shocking truth about the night Ashley died.
We have seen the boxing redemption story plenty of times, most recently with Southpaw, which showed us a champion boxer that lost everything and needed to rebuild his life. Southpaw was a glossy version of this story; Glass Jaw brings us down to a gritty environment, where the gyms feel worked out in, the boxers feel accessible to fans and learn from fellow fighters. This tries to bring the story into reality, which is one of the highlights in the storytelling process here. The story does end up following the checklist of the redemption arc without trying to challenge the generic idea of how far Travis must go to get back on top. The biggest question surrounding the story comes from how there could even be charges against Travis; he clearly has nothing to do with the death and only takes the charge because of his guilt.
Glass Jaw is a boxing movie, so the question remains: how is the boxing? The truth is the boxing is just fine. We get to feel certain punches, but the biggest problems come from just how realistic Creed made boxing scenes; nothing seems to be able to keep up with that film. Lee Kholafai does look the part when it comes to the fitness and boxing side of things, but he does struggle when it comes to the serious scenes that are meant to have an emotional impact on the story. if you dive into the supporting cast we get solid performances; nobody stands out as great, but each has their moment to make an impact, with most not hitting the heights of their character’s potential.
Overall this is a completely by-the-book boxing redemption story. It doesn’t offer anything new to the genre and by the end, you will be resigned to having watched a decidedly average boxing film.