Film Review: FIRST ROUND DOWN (Canadian Feature)

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first_round_down.jpgA former hockey star turned hitman returns home after ten years to take care of his younger brother, but his checkered past catches up to him faster than he can deliver pizza.

Directors: Brett M. Butler, Jason G. Butler
Writers: Brett M. Butler, Jason G. Butler
Stars: Dylan Bruce, Rachel Wilson, Rob Ramsay

Review by Gilbert Seah

 FIRST ROUND DOWN begins with a very impressive start. Hockey stud looks at himself in a tight polo shirt in the mirror. He drives a vintage plymouth with the voiceover saying something about hockey as he speeds his car to deliver, yes, deliver pizzas. He is given flack including insults like “Loser!” But this never gets him down. The recycle trash cans by the street indicate it is not a period piece but a contemporary story. This culminates with a catchy “The Good old hockey game (is the best game you can name)” played to the opening credits and voiceover where the audience learns more of the film’s protagonist.

Set in small town Hamilton, the Butlers capture the spirit of the Canadian small town mentality. The guys, especially the hockey fans are loud, obnoxious and male chauvinist pigs. The women are slutty, talking dirty among themselves while the older folk talk of the town’s past glory – i.e. Timothy Tucker’s glory days.

The film is split into three parts, titled as periods as in a hockey game. The story revolves around Tucker (Dylan Bruce from ORPHAN BLACK), a former hockey prodigy, who returns home to take care of his younger brother after their parents pass on. Having spent the last ten years as a hit man for the mob in Montreal, Tucker now lives on the straight and narrow as a pizza delivery driver, laying low and paying the bills. However, a chance encounter with his former girlfriend, Kelly Quinn (Rachel Wilson, THE REPUBLIC OF DOYLE) coupled with the Sterling Cup reunion and the untimely arrival of his old mob boss in town has Tim’s checkered past catching up to him faster than he can plan one final heist to move on once and for all.
The film falls into the trap of having the same identical plot of many small town movies. We have the hero who has returned to the small town to prove himself. He finds his former girl engaged and tries to win her back. There is some celebration organized to remember his glory and the man obviously proves himself. All these elements are present in FIRST ROUND DOWN.

Stage, television and film actor Rob Ramsay must be ‘complemented’ for playing the most obnoxious and annoying character in a movie so far this year, probably beating Jack Black an actor I just cannot bear to watch. Bobby, who Ramsay plays not only annoys the audience with his shouting and weird noises, but also annoys every character in the film – his best friend, his mates and the girls. Dylan Bruce is ok as the lead hunk who has the good looks for a star hockey leading man.

For hockey as the inspiration for the Butler’s film, there is surprisingly few hockey games on display.

FIRST ROUND DOWN started well – funny, stylish and offbeat. But the film unfortunately gets mired down in its silly predictable story



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