James Woods stars as con man Gabriel Caine, who travels to Diggstown, Georgia (with his partner Fitz (the amazing Oliver Platt) to set up his biggest con yet. Diggstown, named after local boxing hero Charles Macom Diggs, loves its boxing, and Fitz convinces the town magnate John Gillon (a sublimely sleazy Bruce Dern) to bet $100,000 that he can provide a fighter that can beat any ten Diggstown men in one day. This fighter is the now 48-year old Honey Roy Palmer.(Louis Gossett Jr.), a former partner of Caines who is dragged back into the ring for one last shot at glory (and a big pay day). The wagers begin to increase as the stakes get personal (and violent) and there are more than a few twists before all is said and done.
Woods plays a grifter with a heart of gold, and he gets his share of good one-liners opportunities to display his trademark cockiness. His interplay with Gossett Jr. is inspired, and the two have some strong chemistry that provides a number of funny moments in the film’s second half. Oliver Platt doesn’t have as much to do, but he does it wonderfully though he sort of vanishes in the final act. Supporting roles are filled by the great Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb as Caine’s prison buddy, and Heather Graham as the (thankfully not intolerable) love interest.
Once the climactic boxing match begins, the pace of the film speeds up considerably and doesn’t calm down until the effectively twisty ending. For experienced viewers the outcome may never feel in question, but writer Steven McKay (working from a novel by Leonard Wise) throws a few well timed curve balls right at the film’s climax.
The DVD is bare bones and features no extras outside a theatrical trailer and the choice of English or French audio and subtitle tracks.