aka MAX SCHMELING
(Germany/Croatia - 2010; US release 2012)
Directed by Uwe Boll. Written by Timo Berndt. Cast: Henry Maske, Heino Ferch, Suzanne Wuest, Vladimir Weigl, Yoan Pablo Hernandez, Arved Birnbaum, Arthur Abraham, Enad Licina. (Unrated, 123 mins)
Absurdly retitled FIST OF THE REICH for its straight-to-DVD US release, MAX SCHMELING was a longtime pet project of bad movie icon Uwe Boll, long mocked for his awful video game film adaptations (ALONE IN THE DARK, etc) and various attention-seeking publicity stunts (shit-talking his actors on commentary tracks, challenging his detractors to boxing matches) that border on performance art. After going several years without the German tax shelter loopholes that enabled him to spend large amounts of money to hire slumming name actors like Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, and Burt Reynolds (IN THE NAME OF THE KING) and Ben Kingsley (BLOODRAYNE), there's been a marked decline in not just the "entertainment" value of Boll's films, but also his budgets. Lately, Boll's idea of a big name is getting Edward Furlong or Michael Pare. These lower budgets inspired Boll for a while--1968 TUNNEL RATS and POSTAL were alright and the grim prison drama STOIC was actually, dare I say it, good. But lately, Boll hasn't even been trying: BLOODRAYNE: THE THIRD REICH was awful and the simultaneously-shot BLUBBERELLA was his career nadir, which for Uwe Boll, is really saying something. A couple of years ago, Boll got a co-production deal with a Croatian company and shot at least four films back-to-back on the same trip to Zagreb: MAX SCHMELING was his priority, but he also got BLOODRAYNE: THE THIRD REICH and BLUBBERELLA done next, and his still-unreleased-in-the-US Holocaust drama AUSCHWITZ was shot right after.
|Yoan Pablo Hernandez as Joe Louis, |
fighting Max Schmeling (Henry Maske)
Boll is delusional enough that he probably thought MAX SCHMELING was the kind of sincere, reverent biopic that would put him in the same league as Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese. Schmeling (1905-2005) is arguably the most famous boxer in German history, one who became a major celebrity in early 1930s Germany due to his own success as well as his marriage to popular Czech-born German movie star Anny Ondra. Schmeling came to America and fought (and befriended) the great Joe Louis (their friendship was the subject of the 2002 film JOE AND MAX) and other American boxers (Jack Sharkey, Max Baer) before retiring from boxing and serving as a paratrooper in the Luftwaffe during WWII, though he never supported Hitler or the Nazis. He attempted a comeback after WWII (when he was already over 40), but it was short-lived and after leaving boxing for good, became an executive with Coca-Cola's German office and lived out his years as boxing royalty before he died in 2005 at the age of 99.
|Suzanne Wuest as Max's actress wife Anny Ondra|
|Heino Ferch as trainer Max Manoch|
|Not the one used in the film, but another pic|
of the real Max Schmeling, with Henry Maske.
What the hell? Who leaves the commentary track of their pet project just over halfway through the film? Sure, this is a guy who regularly answers his cell phone and eats cheeseburgers during commentary tracks, but this is an ostensibly serious film. Boll doesn't give a shit. Why should we? I guess we should just be thankful that he resisted the urge and waited until BLUBBERELLA to cast himself as Hitler.
|"Here's what I think of sticking around for the whole commentary!"|