Synopsis by Mark Deming
A man who has turned his back on violence must reclaim his skills as a fighter for the sake of his family in this sentimental drama. Sean Kelleher (Michael Madsen) is an amateur boxer who goes too far while sparring with his brother and accidentally kills him; horrified by his actions, Sean pledges to never enter the ring again and pursues a career as a car salesman. After a rare cardiac ailment takes the life of his wife, Sean learns that his young son, Mikey (Luke Whelton), has contracted the same disease, and that his only hope for survival lies in experimental surgery that can only be performed by one doctor in the United States. The cost of the operation would be 250,000 dollars -- money Sean doesn't have -- but he learns of an annual underground bare-knuckles boxing tournament held each year by a band of gypsies called the Travelers. The purse for the winner would cover the price of the surgery, and Sean signs on to compete. A neighborhood priest who once coached boxing (Richard Chamberlain) helps Sean train for the contest, and he's embraced by a family of Travelers led by Papa Boss (Patrick Bergin), but the odds don't look good for Sean when he learns that he'll have to fight Smasher (Vinnie Jones), a hard-as-nails boxer who won the Travelers' contest in the previous year and has already killed two men in the ring. Strength and Honor was the first feature film from writer and director Mark Mahon.
boxing, father, single-parent, widow/widower