Turn Back The Clock

The Cutting Edge

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Distributed By: MGM

Reviewed by Justine Manzano 

     There are some movies that you see in the course of your life that you will drop anything to watch, no matter how many times youíve seen it.  I only have two, and one of them is because it is so cheesy and that makes it hilarious.  The other movie is simply because I absolutely adore it.  I canít count how many times I may have seen this movie, and since it often airs on television, I also have no idea of the many scenes Iíve missed because I havenít caught it from the beginning.  Last Christmas, however, somebody very intelligent bought the movie for me on DVDóit is The Cutting Edge, and it is my all time favorite movie.

     To understand my love for this movie, one must understand that figure skating was a large part of my childhood.  This is probably pretty strange, since Iíve never been to a rink and Iíve never laced up a pair of skates in my life (except for roller skates, and I promptly fell on my butt).  Despite this, for as long as I can remember Iíve been enchanted by the art of figure skating.  Watching the events on the television I would shout out how one competitor popped his double jump and how some other falter would probably be a tenth-of-a-point deduction.  Naturally, nobody could keep me away from The Cutting Edge when it was released in 1992óitís a romantic movie about my favorite sport!  What could go wrong?  Absolutely nothing. 

     The Cutting Edge follows the story of Kate Moseley (Moira Kelly, One Tree Hill) and Douglas Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney, Memphis Belle, Spawn).  When the movie begins, we watch Kate, a pairs figure skater fall during an Olympic competition during a difficult lift.  We see Doug get abused during an Olympic Hockey match-up, and we soon find that his injury, which cuts off some of his peripheral vision, completely eliminates him from competing as a pro-hockey player.  Time passes and we learn that Kate has tried partner after partner, but her snobby, harsh attitude and incredible skill have her shedding partner after partner.  Doug isnít doing much better.  He is playing in any amateur hockey league he can find when Kateís coach, Anton Pamchenko (Roy Dotrice, Beauty & The Beast is what heís most known for, but youíve seen this guyís face everywhere).  Pamchenko has decided that Kate needs a new approach, and though Kate and Doug hate each other from minute one, both Pamchenko and Kateís father, Jack (Terry OíQuinn, Lostís John Locke), decide this is the way to go.

     Immediately, training begins.  Doug takes his licks both on the ice and from Kateís words, but he gives back with the best of them, and as months go by, we watch the two skaters grow from pure hate to a fun competitive nature in which they race to best each other.  Jackís pushing of Kate and Dougís fear of what his family will say when the hardcore hockey fans discover he is figure skating draw sympathy for the characters, even cold-as-ice Kate.  As feelings begin to grow between the two competitors, Kateís fiancee, Dougís pride, and the mystery behind what really might have went on during Kateís first Olympic run, haunt them at every turn.  The pair fights to get to the Olympics, all the while struggling to find a way that they can work together.

     This movie has always been a powerhouse to me and I love every minute of it.  The relationship that grows between Kate and Doug is beautiful in a way that is truthful.  With all the ups and downs, you can see them as they begin to empathize with each other and understand exactly what makes the other tick.  The direction is amazing, flashing between close-ups and foot work in a way that highlights both the actors and their stand-ins.  You can tell that the actors must have trained hard to perform their parts of the skating.  This movie is very well-done and the soundtrack, especially the songs for the work-out montages, have you humming them days after watching. 

     The story, naturally, is flawed at some points.  Doug seems to learn the transition from hockey to figure skating far too easily, as evidenced by Dave Coulierís attempts at Skating With Celebrities.  It seems completely unbelievable that Kate would put up with Doug, who she considers a Neanderthal, even if her father tells her too.  She defies him almost every other place that she can throughout the movie.  The most dissonant of the slip-ups, the Pamchenko, the move that their coach creates for them to give them a step ahead in the Olympics, seem to be physically impossible.  Iíve thought it through over and over and it doesnít seem like this move can be done. 

     Despite these messy moments, the movie flows well, and has fun with itself, never taking itself too seriously.  The characters are silly, the training process is fun, and the dramatic moments will break your heart.  Watching this movie again, nearly 15 years after itís debut, it remains clear to me why I need to drop everything every time it airs.  At some points it is good, some amazing, some a little unbelievableóit may not be a masterpiece as so few movies are nowadays, but itís a damn good movie and thatís more than enough. 

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