PJ Knapke’s review published on Letterboxd:
Whereas Fear and Desire was simply a bad film that thought too much of itself (the actual definition of pretentious, a word often misapplied to things, and I think Kubrick realized that not too long after), this film is actually very well shot and definitely far more compelling than his previous effort at the time. The beginning of the film is essentially Day of the Fight without the forced narration, and I think I preferred Kubrick's translation of the short doc into narrative form here. The story itself is still a little bland, and its editing is sort of wonky at times, but the rapid pacing means it doesn't feel boring, only a bit thin at its base perhaps. The concluding scene (I won't say what it is) was clearly tacked on by higher-ups and not Kubrick himself, but it doesn't help the film at all. Despite these significant flaws, it is in this film that Kubrick really started to show his incredible eye for composition and the dream sequence I thought was very interesting and indicative of what he would later become. The boxing scenes were also incredibly well shot, and felt like the precursor to Scorsese’s Raging Bull by a couple decades. This is definitely the film where Kubrick's stock starting its consistent ascent to the top, and its interesting to see where that progression started.