By: Zach Draves
Anyone looking for a true thrill ride mixed in with all the theater that sports can provide, Embattled is the film for you.
In continuing with the themes that made films like Rocky, He Got Game, Raging Bull, and The Rookie monumental classics, Embattled has all the drama, suspense, excitement, and heartache that will captivate sports fans.
The film released on November 20th and distributed by IFC films, directed by new coming filmmaker Nick Sarkisov, is centered on the ascendance of mixed martial arts fighter Cash Boykins played by Stephen Dorff known for his roles in True Detective and the Power of One.
Cash, modeled in the image of Conor McGregor, has won every title imaginable, riding high on his image of ferociousness and intimidation
He is the epitome of toxic masculinity throughout the film.
That identity possesses him in and out of the cage.
It ultimately has damaged his relationship with his family and particularly his 18-year son Jett played by Darren Mann.
Jett is an aspiring fighter in his own right who is constantly living under the shadow of his father.
In addition to training and school, Jett is seen as the father figure of the film who not only is a champion fighter, but also has a history of abuse towards him and his family.
Jett takes on the role of protector for his brother Quinn played by Colin McKenna, who has special needs.
There are periodic flashback scenes throughout the film showing Cash verbally, emotionally, and physically abusing Jett and/or his mother.
One scene that stands out is of the police being called after a domestic violence incident in which Cash is ultimately taken into custody and is screaming at the top of his lungs towards a young Jett with venomous threats.
Throughout the film, Jett is constantly challenged by Cash to prove his manhood in terms of his mannerisms, fighting style, and his music of interest, which ultimately leads to the hyped-up match between father and son.
In the following interview with Stephen Dorff along with trainer Chris Connelly, they describe what went into the development of the project, the training to get into fighting shape, and their hope for what the film can bring to craving audiences.
What drew you to this project?
Stephen: A friend of mine gave me the script. I loved the script because of the strong father-son story in the context of MMA. I was focused on trying to make this stay real and worked with MMA fighters before. I also really wanted to take the journey with Nick, a Hollywood Rookie.
What was the training process for the film?
Chris: Pretty intense. Conditioning and training in these highly technical moves. Making the fight scenes look legit. Stephen had experienced weeks of training. We wanted the scenes to be choreographed to the emotion of the characters.
Stephen: I was training at the house and really hit the ground running for three to four weeks. It was very elaborate.
What do you hope people will take away from the movie?
Stephen: It is a really compelling movie. I want people to enjoy the fight scenes and the story itself. It is a deep family drama and can provide great entertainment.
To say the least, anyone looking for a thrilling action feature that will put you on the edge of your seats at a time when many are looking to release built up tension and energy, this is the film for you.
For anyone interested in understanding the complex intersections of sport and toxic manhood, this is the film for you.
Those looking for another good underdog sports story, this is the film for you.
Go see Embattled.
You won’t regret it.