Genre: Drama
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman
RunTime: 2 hrs 17 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG

Release Date: 17 February 2005

Synopsis :

Frankie Dunn (CLINT EASTWOOD) has trained and managed some incredible fighters during a lifetime spent in the ring. The most important lesson he teaches his boxers is the one that rules his life: above all, always protect yourself. In the wake of a painful estrangement from his daughter, Frankie has been unwilling to let himself get close to anyone for a very long time. His only friend is Scrap (MORGAN FREEMAN), an ex-boxer who looks after Frankie’s gym and knows that beneath his gruff exterior is a man who has attended Mass almost every day for the past 23 years, seeking the forgiveness that somehow continues to elude him.
Then Maggie Fitzgerald (HILARY SWANK) walks into his gym.
Maggie’s never had much, but there is one thing she does have that very few people in this world ever do: she knows what she wants and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get it. In a life of constant struggle, Maggie’s gotten herself this far on raw talent, unshakable focus and a tremendous force of will. But more than anything, what she wants is for someone to believe in her.
The last thing Frankie needs is that kind of responsibility – let alone that kind of risk. He tells Maggie the blunt hard truth: she’s too old and he doesn’t train girls. But ‘no’ has little meaning when you have no other choice. Unwilling or unable to give up on her life’s ambition, Maggie wears herself to the bone at the gym every day, encouraged only by Scrap. Finally won over by Maggie’s sheer determination, Frankie begrudgingly agrees to take her on.
In turns exasperating and inspiring each other, the two come to discover that they share a common spirit that transcends the pain and loss of their pasts, and find in each other a sense of family they lost long ago. What they don’t know is that soon they will both face a battle that’s going to demand more heart and courage than any they’ve ever known.

Movie Review:

Guess how long it took to film “Million Dollars Baby”?

It took just 38 days to film this movie and it does not feature any grand scale epic or luxurious costumes but it has become a strong contender in the running for 7 major awards nomination for this coming Oscar. AND there are at least 3 good reasons for that: Hilary, Morgan and Clint.

These three Oscar winners are back at doing what they do best: giving a convincing performance to entrap the viewers’ attention. Viewers might even notice resemblances of these three actors’ past characters roles in Million Dollars Baby.

Similar to her previous film, The Next Karate Kid, Hilary Swank plays the role of Maggie Fitzgerald, a wannabe boxer that wants to be trained under Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) despite being turned down for a number of reasons, especially since Maggie had already passed the prime age for a boxer’s training. Persistent with determination and with a little help from Scrap (Morgan Freeman), the gym caretaker, she finally manages to get Frankie to train her and was on route to a championship bout.

It’s hard not to be swept away by Hilary’s almost naïve notion of getting what she wants through her fierce determination. Irregardless of whether it was in the boxing rings or facing what life throws in Maggie’s way, her performance would draw out the viewers’ emotions in as subtle a manner as possible, many times without the viewer’s notice.

Morgan Freeman provides the narration throughout the film, much like what he did for the film Shawshank Redemption and Se7en. He played Frankie Dunn’s old pal and as the gym caretaker, he bears witness to the miracle evolving in a grubby surrounding. As usual, he plays the wise guy who sees the big picture, explaining and clarifying whether they need it or not.

Clint Eastwood did almost everything here in Million Dollars Baby as he had in a number of films. From acting in front of the screen, to directing behind the screen to creating the soundtrack of this film, it’s amazing that even while undertaking so many tasks, he is still able to capture the essence of a great film and drawing the very best from his actors.

Even his selection of the supporting cast is memorable as they contribute the subplots to keep the main movie going. Characters such as “Danger” Barch who keeps training at the gym although he is not physically and mentally right for boxing, the parish that Frankie Dunn irritates every Sunday at church and even the prostitute-turned-boxer who fights dirty in the rings.

These three stars gave a creditable performance to the characters they portray. Without them, the storyline and premise of Million Dollars Baby could have been a straight to TV or video production. At the end of the film, viewers will probably require some time for reflection and contemplation on life and its purpose. Million Dollars Baby should be a knockout with most viewers and definitely a worthy follow up to Mystic Rivers, if not better.

Movie Rating: A-

Review by Richard Lim Jr

  Publicity Stills of "Million Dollar Baby" (Courtesy from Shaw)

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