Picks and Pans Review: Undefeated

updated 07/28/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/28/2003 01:00AM

HBO (Sat., July 26, 8 p.m. ET)

"If you don't see it comin', you're gonna get hit," veteran trainer Victor (Nestor Serrano) advises promising pugilist Lex (John Leguizamo). In this boxing movie you see every punch coming, so you hardly feel a thing.

As director, Leguizamo gives New York grit and Latin flavor to Undefeated. As lead actor, he bears a certain resemblance to John Garfield in the 1947 ring classic Body and Soul. But the script, even if it's intended as homage to past boxing dramas, plays like a compendium of clich├ęs. Lex rises through the welterweight ranks; turns his career over to slick, shady managers; falls for a temptress (Vanessa Ferlito) with show-business ambitions; grows estranged from his homeboys and finally faces a moral crisis: Will he throw a big fight? Montages serve as dramatic shorthand, an acknowledgment that we all know the story so there's no reason to tell it in detail.

BOTTOM LINE: Not a contender

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