Hot on the tail of The Combination comes another Australian film about boxing and family. Two Fists One Heart wraps a fairly clichéd story of one man’s struggles in and out of the ring in some impressionistic hand-held packaging, to produce a rather middle-weight film with little emotional punch.
Perth boxer Rai Fazio decided to write this story after being inspired by some advice from Harvey Keitel that good stories come from the heart. Fazio was coached as a boxer by his Sicilian-Australian father from the age of four and went onto to win the Australian Amateur Boxing Title, and the relationship between father and son, trainer and boxer, lies at the heart of this story.
Daniel Amalm plays Anthony Argo, a young working class boxer being trained by his tough-love dad Joe (Ennio Fantasichini). After winning the amateur titles, Anthony wants to rest a while, and hangs out with new girlfriend Kate (Jessica Marais) who he rescued from thugs on a ferry ride. She’s from the other side of town – a psychology student with a musical brother Tom (Tim Minchin), and questions Anthony’s way of dealing with conflict. Drawn away from family, Anthony’s relationship with his father starts to fall apart and can only be reconciled if he steps back into the ring.
The film takes a long time to work out where the core story is headed, drifting from beautifully shot beach scenes to beautifully shot night club scenes, (and even a unnecessary comedy scene with Tim Minchin), all linked only by a series of violent brawls. When a story does emerge – after an hour or more of dawdling – it’s as familiar as could be imagined and sets up the strong cast to struggle with some corny scenes and mostly thinly drawn characters. There are glimpses of what might have been possible when Fazio himself – playing Anthony’s rival boxer Nico – steps onto the screen with a presence and energy that first-time director Shawn Seet cant find in anyone else. But he does makes up for it with his style, employing an edgy yet very coherent hand-held approach with plenty of dramatic focus pulling, snappy editing and excellent music choices. Style and story combine strongly in the last energetic sequence of the film, but by then it’s no longer a character piece but a genre cliché.