Fighting and boxing films have been a lover of film makers as long as sports including baseball movies. Directors from Martin Scorsese to Ron Howard and David Fincher have tackled this genre and with great success. One of the latest films to grace this topic is Chris Sivertson’s Brawler starring Nathan Grubbs, Mark Senter and Bryan Batt of Mad Men fame.
Brawler is the tale of two underground fighters who happen to be brothers and second generation fighters in New Orleans. Soon an indiscretion and mistakes on multiple parts leads to a feud between the brothers who eventually decide to settle matters in the fighting arena. The fighting is financially backed by a local mobster who is keenly interested in the upcoming bout. The film is said to be based on actual events which is to say that these sorts of fights did happen but this particular story has taken many liberties.
When I recently had the chance to speak with Chris Sivertson, the director of Brawler I asked him about the background of the story and was told it is based on several generations of handed down stories of underground fighting in the New Orleans area. These stories have been handed down over time and eventually composited to make up the film Brawler.
With Mark Senter as Bobby Fontaine, the younger bother to Nathan Grubbs character, Charlie, this marks the fourth film that Senter and Sivertson have collaborated together. Sivertson told me the reason they have had such a good working relationship goes beyond friendship but includes the fact that they challenge each other and have similar thoughts and taste.
I asked Sivertson about the importance of filming in New Orleans and the authenticity it brought to the film and he mentioned how it was important to show another side of New Orleans, an almost blue collar side that gave birth to this scene and lifestyle.
The fil is a raw look at life most people are unaware or it’s even existence but has it’s flaws. With some stellar fight scenes near perfectly shot, it’s acting leaves some to be desired. It is clearly not the best acting performance by Senter who has an impressive track record but Grubbs proves he has plenty to bring to the table.
Sivertson who is making his first film after the much rejected I Know Who Killed Me starring Lindsay Lohan and garnered him multiple Razzie awards, makes a significant leap forward despite a limited budget which may just be the one thing keeping him back from the advancement into one of the best up and comingdirectors out there.
There is no question that Brawler is one of the better and more real looks at a world most people don’t know exists of underground fighting. Sivertson makes his mark in the genre that doesn’t tend to go unnoticed by the movie going communtity and especially independent movie fans.
It is only my opinion that with more exposure and backing that Sivertson has a style and way of presenting films that can only grow from this point. I personally look forward to his future projects.
Brawler is currently availbale on Blu-Ray and DVD and in theaters.