Jamaica’s love affair with boxing is set to be reignited when Chris Browne’s Ghett’a Life takes to screens in late July. Ghett’a Life presents a heady mix of the bruising excitement of boxing with the turbulence of Jamaica’s tribal politics.
Browne, the director behind the smash hit action film Third World Cop admits that he hopes Ghett’a Life will help bring renewed interest in the sport of boxing. “I’m hoping that this adds fuel to the fire,” Browne admits. He goes on to explain that he hopes that the film will shed some light on what it means to be a boxer.
Browne first had the idea to make Ghett’a Life over a decade ago when he experienced an underground boxing match in Sandy Park, Kingston. He explains that the match was set in a car park and was very rudimentary. “But it was very interesting, like underground Rocky,” he explains.
His research took him to spaces such as the then famous Dragon Gym and he interviewed several boxers including Jamaican Flyweight Champion Richard ‘Shrimpy’ Clarke. Browne proceeded to mix the drama of sports with the politics rife in Kingston’s inner cities for the film’s dramatic tension.
“Boxing is like the engine that pulls the story,” Browne explains. He cautions however that boxing is not the point of the film, which pays greater attention to the situation in which the film’s hero Derek (played by Kevoy Burton) finds himself. “It’s a film about the inner-city more than it’s about boxing,” Mr. Browne says.
In Ghett’a Life Derek discovers that he is a talented boxer and has the opportunity to represent his country and go far beyond his turbulent community. However, to do so he must cross political lines, defy his father a strong political activist (Carl Davis, Dancehall Queen) and the community’s don (Christopher McFarlane).
Browne explains that he had to decide whether he should get a boxer to ensure that the fight scenes were perfect or choose a non-boxer to play the part. He decided to go against the advice he was given.
“Everybody was like get a boxer, get a boxer,” Browne says, “but I was like, a boxer can’t act but an actor can act like a boxer.” Having made the decision however, Mr. Browne then had the task of turning his young actor into a credible boxer. Kevoy and Kadeem Wilson (who plays Gully Rat) were therefore sent to the Bruising Gym for six weeks where coach Carl Grant had the task of taking them through boxing basics.
Browne reveals that prior to shooting Ghett’a Life he watched Martin Scorcese’s boxing classic Red Bull starring Robert DeNiro. He explains that with Red Bull the fight scenes were shot over 9 weeks. With its limited resources, Ghett’a Life didn’t have this luxury, so the three fight scenes were shot over three nights, with one fight being shot each night.
Yet it was important that the film be able to provide an authentic portrayal of boxing. To do so the extensive skills of Roy T. Anderson were pulled in to execute fight choreography. Anderson has had a long history in stunts in film and television with his most recent stunt roles in Rescue Me, Blue Bloods, and Bored to Death.
Browne admits to being pleased with the results. So when Ghett’a Life ventures into theatres this summer, audiences are promised a film that packs the double punches of great drama inside and outside the ring. Ghett’a Life is sure to be a knock out!
Ghett’a Life combines both new and experienced talent among its all Jamaican cast and crew. All Jamaican local investors from a fund set up by Pan Caribbean Financial Services fund the film. The impressive cast includes Carl Davis (Dancehall Queen, Almost Heaven, and Royal Palm Estate), Teddy Price (Small Island, Glory to Gloriana, and Royal Palm Estate), Winston ‘Bello’ Bell (Third World Cop, Royal Palm Estate), Karen Robinson (Liars and a Real Girl, Soul Food, Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story). The film welcomes lead actor and newcomer Kevoy Burton and female lead, Lisa Williams. Also, actor Boy Awardee Christopher McFarlane turns his years of experience on the stage to sliver screen. Ghett’a Life will be released in local theaters island wide on Wednesday, July 27.