The Fight Machine ★★★★ Fantasia International Film Festival

The Fight Machine ★★★★ Fantasia International Film Festival

The Fight Machine is a film that connects throughout; combining two stories is a bold choice from Andrew Thomas Hunt, but it works marvellously here. Fantastically cast from top to bottom, this is a fight drama you do not want to miss.

Paul (Greg Hovanessian) and Rob (Dempsey Bryk) come from different backgrounds. Paul is rich,left to his own devices, while Rob is close to his working-class family. Rob’s father, Rueben (Greg Bryk), toughs it out as a baker and runs a boxing club where Rob and his uncle Tom (Noah Dalton Danby) train daily. After being pummeled one drunken night while clubbing, Paul decides to take up boxing with an old-timer coach named Lou (Michael Ironside). The sport is an outlet for Paul’s frustrations, something to make him forget his privileged background and soon makes him a formidable opponent—good enough for him to enter the world of bare-fisted fighting. With every TKO, his defeated opponents bring him closer to a life-changing crossroads with Rob and his family.

Sure the story of a young boxer who wants to escape the poverty cycle that his family is encircled in for something more meaningful to him has been done to death in fighting films. Also, the rich kid who wants to fight feels the thrill of possibly losing. But rarely are they done simultaneously; this is where The Fight Machine works so well. Separately these two stories could have their film each, and you would gravitate towards them due to the talent on show. Yet, here they are together, and the fear of both stories cancelling one another out is a genuine risk.

Somehow, director Andrew Thomas Hurt manages to keep it all together story-wise so that when we get to those fight scenes, we feel something a bit more to them. So as the two young men’s lives change for the better and the worse, you feel something for them equally. The fact that we get this without a bucket full of melodrama is refreshing, yet the central premise stays true.

To do this with the number of fight scenes and exposure to this world is as fascinating as it is integral to the film’s success. We need to see them fight and their emotions in those moments, no matter how brutal and barbaric it looks at times. We also need to see how they can keep going and how nefarious the actions of those around them are to keep them upright and moving forward. These aspects present give the film far more depth than expected from a movie titled The Fight Machine.

For those wanting to watch some great fight scenes, The Fight Machine has this in spades and isn’t afraid of shirking away from showing us the brawls. Thanks need to go to the team here, as these are painful scenes that have you involuntarily flinching with each strike. The sound design helps those squirms come to the fore; you really do feel as if those shots are happening in front of you.

However, this film is more interested in the entire piece, and those fight scenes are merely part of the grand scheme of things. A surprisingly great film that deserves to have a wide audience.


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