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Shadowboxer is a 2005 thriller directed by Lee Daniels that stars Academy Award winners Cuba Gooding, Jr., Helen Mirren, and Mo’Nique. It opened in limited release in six cities: New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Richmond, Virginia.


Mikey (Gooding Jr.) and his stepmother Rose (Mirren) are lovers and contract killers. Rose is diagnosed with cancer, as she and Mikey continue with their contract killings. Mafia kingpin Clayton (Stephen Dorff) learns that his pregnant wife Vicki (Vanessa Ferlito) may have had sex with someone else. So, through an associate, Clayton hires Mikey and Rose to kill Vicki and several of his mob associates who he sees as weak men. After Clayton convinces Vicki that he must leave town for two days for work, Rose and Mikey set out for Clayton’s mansion to kill Vicki. First, Rose quietly shoots and kills one of Vicki’s bodyguards by hiding in the backseat of his car, when he is sent on a food run. Rose and Mikey head to Clayton’s mansion to kill Vicki and her remaining bodyguards. Upon entering, Mikey shoots and kills all of the guards while Rose heads for Vicki’s bedroom. All the while, Vicki is on the phone with her best friend Neisha, (Macy Gray) and is unaware of her bodyguards being killed. Rose enters Vicki’s bedroom, but just as Rose is about to carry out the contract, Vicki’s water breaks and she goes into labor. Rose helps Vicki deliver her baby, which turns out to be a boy. Afterwards, Mikey and Rose drive Vicki and her infant son to a local motel. At Rose’s request, Mikey calls Dr. Don (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who arrives with his junkie nurse Precious (Mo’Nique). But Dr. Don is also the private doctor to Clayton, and when he recognizes Vicki, he is hesitant at first but decides to help. Now Dr. Don and Precious must keep Vicki and her infant son’s existence a secret from Clayton. Rose switches to the role of midwife, and over Mikey’s objections, insists that they take Vicki and her infant son to a safe place. The four end up in Philadelphia, where Mikey continues to struggle with the dual responsibilities of being an assassin for hire and a surrogate father figure.

Neisha arrives at Clayton’s mansion demanding to know where Vicki is. Clayton heads out to the driveway to tell Neisha that Vicki left him. Clayton’s bodyguard shows up at the gate and Clayton invites Neisha in for a drink. Neisha refuses, realizes that Clayton must have had Vicki killed, and, fearing for her own life, she leaves. Clayton becomes nervous that Neisha knows too much and may inform the police of her suspicions. Mikey gets his next contract kill, and it turns out to be Neisha. Mikey carries out the contract by poisoning Neisha with a laced drink, and she dies after ingesting enough. On his way out, Mikey sees a picture of Neisha and Vicki taken together. Mikey displays a tiny bit of guilt, but never tells Vicki about Neisha. Mikey and Rose move Vicki and her son to a house in upstate Pennsylvania. Rose continues helping Vicki with her baby, while Mikey carries on with the contract killings solo.

Clayton appears in a full-frontal nude scene in which he is engaged in sex when distracted by voices in the next room. The nude Clayton opens the door to the room and shoots an unnamed women and her associate who are owed money. He even shoots his bodyguard in the foot. He calls Dr. Don to examine his bodyguard’s foot. While Don nervously wonders if Clayton already knows about Vicki still being alive.

At the baby’s first birthday party, Rose decides she would rather die at her happiest point than suffer from her cancer. She has Mikey take her to some nearby woods, convinces him to have sex with her, and shoot her as she reaches orgasm. Before she dies, Rose makes Mikey promise to take care of Vicki and her baby, and do whatever Vicki asks of him. Mikey, Vicki and the child, Anthony, live safely until the boy reaches around age seven.

While searching for medical files, Precious hears a woman moaning in Dr. Don’s office. She heads to the doctor’s office, where she finds Dr. Don giving oral sex to a woman he was examining. Betrayed by Dr. Don, Precious tells Don that he is going to be sorry and leaves his office. Meanwhile, Anthony witnesses Mikey assembling a gun for another contract kill. Vicki catches Anthony eavesdropping on Mikey and pulls him away from Mikey’s bedroom before closing the door. She later confronts Mikey and tells him that he doesn’t have to protect her and Anthony anymore and asks him to leave. Mikey goes out on another contract killing, dressed as a transvestite, and kills a man. After he carries out the contract, Mikey notices a birthday card the man had made for his own son’s sixth birthday, causing Mikey to be consumed with guilt. Mikey realizes that he has grown attached to Anthony and, after confessing his murders to Vicki, tells her he wants to stay.

Clayton finds out from Precious that his wife and child are alive. Clayton then shoots and kills Precious right before Dr. Don’s eyes and shoots Don in the leg. Mikey, deciding that he no longer wants to kill, determines that his next contract kill will be his final one. When Mikey checks into a hotel he opens the file on his contract, only to find a picture of himself and Vicki leaving their house. Mikey then calls Vicki to find out if she and Anthony are okay. Clayton’s bodyguard instead answers the phone, causing Mikey to rush home and right into Clayton’s trap. After being captured and tortured (Clayton cuts off the tip of one of Mikey’s fingers), Mikey fights back and defeats Clayton’s goons. Clayton overpowers Mikey and is about to kill him when he is shot by his own son. Mikey tells Vicki and Anthony to wait outside, and Mikey kills all of Clayton’s men. Mikey then looks at Clayton, asks him if he was proud of Anthony, and shoots him.

Mikey, Vicki, and Anthony drive off down the road. Anthony ask Mikey if he is his son, Mikey replies that he is. Mikey also cautions Anthony to watch out for people like Clayton and his men; the boy responds, “We’ll kill ’em.”


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