Talk about being surprised by a flick. Going into this one I knew absolutely nothing about it apart from Dean Ambro… sorry John Moxl… sorry Johnathon Good was in it and I only knew that because he was on the poster. Being a big fan of pro wrestling and Moxley in general I was pretty much in. I was slightly dubious about the whole MMA side of this movie but I am always willing to jump in with both feet and be proven wrong. Lets be honest I was a massive fan of Warrior so im not totally opposed to the concept.
So lets see what a Very Very British Rocky style story that smashes MMA and Pro Wrestling together looks like in:
Stars: Gina Gershon, Jonathan Good, Alex Montagnani
Reiss Gibbons (Alex Montagnani) is the UKs wonder fighter in MMA and has been dominating the sport for near on 10 years with an unbeaten streak in the LEGENDS promotion. Coming from nothing to being the 5 time world champ and taking on any opponent. Max Black (Gina Gershon) is always looking for the next big event for Legends and an opportunity has arisen to pit Randy Stone (Johnathon Good) a Pro Wrestler against Gibbons in a huge money spinning event. Gibbons and manager Reggie (Elijah Baker) take Stone for a walk over and underestimate the battle he is about to face both inside the Octagon and outside of it.
First up, Alex Montagnani… Woah… Yes absolutely Yes. Its pretty obvious from the outset of the movie that Montagnani is an actual MMA fighter and not so much an actor but this only helps his performance later in the story, when he is humbled and fighting back his whole characters demeanor is perfectly set against his co-star Good. This was a guy I could absolutely relate to, obviously not in the fighting sense but you were actually able to root for Reiss throughout. Sticking with MMA and I have to say Chuck Liddell surprised the crap out of me too playing the Coach Mickey role. To be fair to Liddell he is a tad more seasoned than Montagnani but still I was impressed by the way he was able to layer the character and not have him be a throwaway character. I actually gave a crap about the trainer which tends to be a background role.
On the Wrestling side of things I had absolutely no doubt in Moxley and his abilities on screen, Arguably one of the best on the Mic in WWE/AEW and can cut a shoot promo like you wouldn’t believe and to be honest a lot of his dialogue seemed like this is what he was doing. Supposedly filmed during his break between the two brands you get a real sense of the energetic and frantic character he was at this point. Which all bleeds into the role. Also from the Wrestling world we have Jay Reso (Christian) as Stephen Drake a radio/podcast presenter. I liked Reso in this but again I have seen him in stuff and things before, it was just awesome to see him here.
Before I hit on the rest of the cast I would love to quickly go into what was one of my biggest surprises of the flick. How British it was!!! I really was not expecting this sort of Gritty and Dirty feel to the film at all but it suited the tone and the world we are inhabiting for the duration. Director Jesse Quinones did a great job of making sure the movie wasn’t to polished and glossy. Meaning the hits actually hit hard, the blood is visceral when used and when the characters unleash it truly felt like they were unleashing. This all pays homage to both the MMA and Pro Wrestling side of the fence. Meaning I was a happy chappy. I said it before and I stand by it, sometimes an intentional sloppy or janky edit can further intensity of the scene (think Paul Greengrass).
Speaking of both sides of the fence… There is a fantastic promo package in the movie where they are hyping up the big fight and you have real life MMA fighters and Pro wrestlers alike giving their verdict on who will win the Gibbons/Stone match, this was a really fun segment and serves to further blur the lines in the same way that Quinones used actual AEW footage of matches and crowds. I wont spoil any appearances for you because there are some treats in there.
This is turning into a pretty long review of a movie I knew very little about but before I do leave I wanted to mention Elijah Baker as Reggie, this is a young up and coming actor I have very much been keeping an eye on and this is another performance that proves Baker is on the right path. Gina Gershon has still got it in spades. This actress has been on the scene for some time now and still commands a scene like nobodys business, I have always and will always be a Gina Gershon fan she is a straight up scene stealer and hugely under rated.
So yeah guys I guess its fairly obvious that I would recommend Cagefighter, something I genuinely did not think I would be saying when I was about 5 minutes into the flick but it won me over and ticks a lot of boxes. Jesse Quinones cleverly crafted an interesting tale and spin on lets be honest a somewhat tired plot. That for me is the best you can ask for from a film maker and his cast.