8/10 I love experiencing films like “Born a Champion”. After initially viewing the trailer for this film for the first time, I thought it looked rather cheesy and low budget. I wasn’t totally wrong but what I wasn’t expecting at all was just how great this film would be. Is it a bit cheesy at times? Yes. Was it low budget? Sure, but there was nothing about the lower budget that hurt the final product here (as opposed to low budget movies with special effects that look awful). Despite some of the minor flaws, this is an incredible semi-true story that I was completely unaware of and yet the film actually explains by the end why so few people are familiar with this emotionally engaging tale (which is inspired by Sean Patrick Flanery’s story). The film is well acted and the emotional content ranges from utterly uplifting to devastatingly heart breaking. The film clocks in at just under two hours but not a minute is wasted as characters are properly developed, motivations are well established and overall, the script from Sean Patrick Flanery and Alex Ranarivelo works extremely well. The fascinating story, paired with intense MMA fight scenes (a double feature with the recent “Embattled” would be the perfect back to back screening) and the characters who will tug on your heartstrings adds up to a rewarding film that I hope gets more attention than it did when it was released in a very limited theatrical run. Flanery is a strong lead and Katrina Bowden has really matured as an actress over the years. Alex Ranarivelo’s direction is strongest during the MMA scenes as he has the opportunity to get creative with how the action is filmed. In the beginning of the film you see how one of the characters basically narrates the film via an interview which I thought might feel too much like a gimmick and rely too heavily on narration but the further the film progresses, the more natural is seems and ended up not bothering me. There was some misdirection near the end that was a bit manipulative and the film implies that this is an entirely factual story as opposed to being inspired by one so some more transparency would have been nice. That being said, you won’t mind much because this is an inspirational film that will make you want to fight for what you believe in, anchored by an emotional core which is as strong as Flanery’s actual core. A pleasant surprise for fans of strong dramas and/or sports related films.

#CutMeMick / #SemperFight / #HonorCorneaCommitment / #ADevilDogsPurpose / #AWorkOfMartialArt / #TheBowdenFlex

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