Boxing in Ireland is on a high following the success of Kenny Egan, Paddy Barnes and Darren Sutherland at the 2008 Olympic Games, so there probably isn't a better time for the release of a film that features the sweet science and Sutherland.
'Saviours' is the directorial debut of Liam Nolan and Ross Whitaker, two Dublin filmmakers who came together to produce a 25-minute documentary but realised they could gather enough material for a feature film. Filming then took place over the following two years but with no budget.
Set in St Saviours Olympic Boxing Academy on Dorset Street, in the heart of Dublin's north inner city, the film follows the fortunes of three boxers whose fights come in and outside of the ring.
Abdul Hussain is originally from Ghana but is seeking asylum in Ireland because he fears for his life should he return to his native country. As he struggles with the red tape of gaining Irish citizenship, he is in limbo. The gym, its trainers and fighters act as a home and family. For Abdul, St Saviours is a haven from the troubles of the outside world.
Dean Murphy is the local lad trying to make good. He grew up in the Dominick Street flats close to the gym and was a regular at St Saviours from an early age. He has the talent and ambition to make a good career from the sport, but he needs to overcome injury and the distractions of working class life.
Before Darren Sutherland was winning Olympic medals and being pursued by the sport's top promoters, he was a young Dublin lad trying to combine college life with a promising amateur boxing career.
In the beginning of the film we see how Darren lacked the motivation to put in the necessary effort, but by film's end we see how he turned things around and set in motion the process that would lead to fame and, no doubt, fortune.
The fighters are coached and cajoled by their wily, humorous trainers, brothers Jim and Pat McCormack. Both were champions in their heyday and have been passing on their knowledge to generations of local lads for over 30 years. They treat the fighters as family; they are upset by Darren's lack of interest; take Abdul to their heart and treat Dean as one of their own sons.
As with most of life in working class Dublin, humour is never far away and the McCormacks are often the chief source, even if it does go close to the bone at times. Whitaker and Nolan successfully manage to blend that humour with the reality of life in inner city Dublin.
Like all good sport documentaries, 'Saviours' focuses on the lives of those involved and not just on the sport. It captures the essence of what it is like to be inside a gym and puts it on screen for all those who have never, or will never, cross the threshold of a boxing gym or sports club.
Critical reviews have been good but it might not have the wide appeal to be a major hit. However, Darren Sutherland's recent success in Beijing will undoubtedly help to give it the wider profile it deserves. This rumble in the urban jungle is a more than admirable effort.