October 26, 1992 12:00 PM

Robert De Niro, Jessica Lange, Cliff Gorman, Alan King

Like its characters, this Manhattan-centric drama is all attitude and no substance. De Niro plays a scuzzy ambulance-chasing lawyer-con man who wants to become a boxing promoter. That, however, puts him in conflict with King, a hustler who already has most of the local talent in his stable.

Lange, a much too smart and beautiful woman to be a barmaid at a cheap neighborhood tavern, wants to open her own place but can’t because some never explained felony in her past keeps her from getting a liquor license. The underused Gorman owns the bar and is married to Lange, though he seems to know that she is having an affair with the strikingly unappealing De Niro. Director Irwin Winkler treats the aren’t-we-the-tough-and-colorful-New Yorkers-though characters created by writer Richard Price with a strange credulity. Price, recycling director Jules Dassin’s 1950 film of the same title set in the wrestling subculture of London, tries to generate an aura of low-life authenticity by such devices as having De Niro refer to $2,000 as “two large.” The whole movie, though, seems to have been gleaned from old novels and movies, right down to the melodramatic conclusion centered on De Niro’s first big fight promotion. (R)”

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