Sunday, April 22, 2012


I have about as much interest in mixed martial arts as in church music or origami, but I found myself cheering by the end of Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s well-made documentary “Fightville,” about fighters, trainers, and promoters climbing the lower rungs of the MMA ladder in southern Louisiana. The filmmakers smartly focus on just a few engaging and well-spoken young men, who suffer no delusions of a smooth road to wealth and stardom but fight out of felt necessity. We see the brutal training schedule they must follow, and the heartbreak of missed opportunity when they allow real life to interfere with it. The bouts themselves are presented understandably, with explanations of the various ways victory can be earned. Like all good sports movies, the joy of “Fightville” lies less in the outcome of any particular contest than in the human connection between its subjects and the audience. A surprising delight.

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