Meg Ryan stars in this fictionalized account of real-life boxing manager Jackie Kallen, the first female to ever make a name for herself in the sport. As the film begins she's just an assistant to the owner of a sleazy sporting arena, but her antagonism toward a mafia-affiliated boxing bigwig (Tony Shalhoub) and her hunch about the innate boxing talent of a young street thug named Luther (Omar Epps) lead her to take up managing. She recruits a retired trainer (Charles S. Dutton, who also directed) to mold Luther into a champ, and starts pushing and climbing through the sport's rampant sexism. The script by Cheryl Edwards is packed with platitudes and great throwaway lines, and to its credit the film doesn't shy away from showing Kallen's less flattering angles. Ryan looks and sounds great, sporting a fun Midwestern accent and a series of sexy outfits as she sashays through the cigar smoke and testosterone, tough-talking her way to victory in argument after argument. Though set in the present, AGAINST THE ROPES has a grungy 1970s feel to it, recalling ROCKY, THE CHAMP, THE MAIN EVENT and other films of the era. The real-life Kallen served as an associate producer.