Walk Like a Panther

Year Released : 2018

Director : Dan Cadan

Cast : Stephen Graham, Dave Johns, Julian Sands, Robbie Gee, Stephen Tomkinson, Jill Halfpenny and Steve Furst

I started running this site in 2014 and during the following year I actually began training to be a wrestler at Lincoln Fight Factory Wrestling. It didn’t work out unfortunately (due to my own motivation levels), but I am still a keen fan of the sport, as I have been since my brother first got me interested in it by showing my Summerslam 1992.

It is a sport that I love and whilst it gets the fair share of critics for being “fake”, show me an episode of “Game of Thrones” where everything you see on screen is real and not fictional. Show me an episode of “Stranger Things” that is more grounded in reality than WWE Wrestlemania….I could go on, but the point is that just like any other TV show, there is an audience for it.

Anyway, recently I left my employment with Odeon Cinema and this means that I can now start writing about some of the movies that I watch there, rather than having to wait until they’ve come and gone, and whilst I don’t often review films that are out at the cinema at the time of reviewing, this seems like a decent opportunity as outside of a few select cinemas in the UK, I doubt this will get high levels of attention.

Don’t expect films at the cinema reviews to become a regular thing.

Plot

Mark (Graham) grew up during the “World of Sport” era, living and breathing the sport of wrestling, and idolising his in-ring technican father Trevor (Johns). Despite this, Trevor barely did anything to help raise Mark and he was instead effectively brought up by Ginger (Jason Flemyng), and the two ran the Half Nelson pub together. One rainy day Ginger dies and a few days later Trevor is told that the pub will be closed by the brewery.

The only solution seems to be to put on a wrestling event. The regulars of the pub happen to be a group that were known as The Panthers during the 70s and 80s, and they all put in the effort to try and save the pub, but can Mark and Trevor get over their issues to make it a success?

Is this a decent British sports comedy?

The problem that this movie has is that it feels like it has completely inconsequential characters. The story arcs of many of the cast are either explored in a lackluster form, or not explored at all. For example, one of the minor key points is whether Tony is the father to a baby, yet other than the reference in the first five or so minutes, the paternity is not brought up again until two or three minutes from the end. During this resolution he decides to *SPOILER* leave his current wife to be with the child’s mother, but even though his current wife knows about this, there is barely a reaction explored on screen.

Aside from them not many characters are really given any screen time. For example, Dawn, other than being transgender, is not given anything to actually there, she is just there for the sake of having another character. Everything feels like a wasted opportunity and this wouldn’t be so bad if the main characters, Mark and Tony, were actually developed properly as well as everything between them feels unnecessarily forced.

The comedy is misplaced and considering this is supposed to be funny, not one of the seven people in attendance at my screening produced a single laugh during the 100odd minute run time. The film jumps around between scenes so often that at least half of the shots they have are actually completely irrelevant to the story and serve no purpose.

Having said that, what they do focus on isn’t very well told either. For example, there is a lengthy part of the plot that revolves around them trying to find someone to play the villain (known as a heel in the wrestling industry for those that don’t know), with everyone refusing, but then when it comes to the show there are clearly some who are actually bad guys in the way that they carry their characters. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense that they spent time arguing over it.

I know that this is supposed to be a fun film and not to be taken too seriously, but there isn’t actually a lot to be positive about. It feels like it tries too hard, the acting isn’t particularly great and considering how many people are in the film, there aren’t a lot of actual characters.

On of the positive side of things, the movie is definitely watchable. It’s not a film that I hated in the slightest and wouldn’t outright say don’t watch it. It does have moments that I liked and the first two or three minutes are a brilliant love-letter to those who crave wrestling, it’s just a shame that the rest of the film couldn’t follow that up.

Summary

“Walk Like a Panther” tries to be funny, but ends up missing what makes successful sports movies great and that is the characters. There are a lot of people on the screen but very few actual characters. Awkward interactions, boring characters and inconsistent story-arcs make it really had to give this a positive review.

With glaring plot holes galore and not a lot actually making sense, this is a movie that anyone who is even remotely into wrestling will be able to pick holes at easily, and let’s face it, if you’re not into wrestling you’re not going to watch a movie about the sport.

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