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But any hopes for a story that will shift the dial quickly fade: Steve is not an existentially inclined thinker, nor a mythic, Jake La Motta-esque cautionary tale, but a family man who dotes on his piano-playing, Dad-worshipping daughter Aurore (Billie Blain) and supportive, pretty wife Marion (an appealing debut from French-Finnish singer Olivia Merilahti, who also contributes the film’s largely electro score).
Facing the end of his career and mounting bills, Steve hustles to gain a position he’d previously scorned — that of a sparring partner for star boxer Tarek M’Bareck, played with authoritative natural charisma by real-life WBA champion Souleymane M’Baye.
A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there.
Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.
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As she observes the dynamic between her captors she quickly realises she must drive a wedge between them if she is to survive.It’s strange that the sport of pugilism should have given rise to such a comfortable, unchallenging formula, but within those cosy parameters, “Sparring” functions perfectly capably.Kassovitz plays Steve Landry, a boxer approaching the end of an undistinguished career in which his stats, which he is humiliatingly forced to reel off on regular occasions, comprise far more losses than wins. Is there some sort of secret union requirement that stipulates that every male actor must at some stage play a plucky outsider or a washed-up pro taking his One Last Shot?This time, the bell dings and up steps Mathieu Kassovitz, for French director Samuel Jouy’s debut feature, a thoroughly competent, amiably performed and completely unremarkable bout with the clichés of this bloated category.