12th Jun2020

‘Cagefighter: Worlds Collide’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Alex Montagnani, Jon Moxley, Gina Gershon, Chuck Liddell, Jay Reso, Brenna Coates, Lowell Dean, Elijah Baker, Rigan Machado, Luke Rockhold | Written by and Directed by Jesse Quinones

The film Jon Moxley made in-between his run in WWE as Dean Ambrose and his debut in AEW (this film uses footage from that promotion AND seemingly used some fans for the fight crowd scenes too) Cagefighter: Worlds Collide is another sports underdog story – this time seemingly built around the same fighter comes good story, the road to redemption arc, that made the Rocky films such classics. Though this film doesn’t go the bombastic route that the Rocky franchise did. No, whilst we do get the typical tropes of a fight movie – training montages, uplifting score etc. – it also presents a somewhat realer story that you’d expect.

I was honestly surprised at how “British” Cagefighter: Worlds Collide is. Filmed in Canada and London, the film feels very much like a gritty East End gangster movie but without all the bullsh*t and baggage that comes with that particularly bad sub-genre. Instead it’s an uplifting tale of a fighter who’s trying to do good by himself, his family and his friend (though said “friend” is also his manager and seems more ruthless than a friend should be). The gritty nature of the film is what makes this film feel a lot different from others of this ilk. Yes, you still root for the underdog Reiss but you also fear for him too – he pushes himself too hard at times and doesn’t quit when he probably should. Which of course feeds back into the redemption story this film tells.

Chuck Lidell who, outside of MMA, you’ve seen mainly in direct to DVD action films headlined by Dolph Lundgren (War Pigs, Riot, Altitude etc.) is the real standout here. His performance as Reiss’ trainer Marcus is remarkable. Lidell shows here he can act rather than grunt and kick-ass… Probably helped along by the fact this story is undoubtedly close to home for him and he can tap into his own experiences in MMA and the ups and downs that come with the sport, to truly give a heartfelt, deep, meaningful performance.

Lidell’s performance is matched only by star, and BAMMA MMA fighter, Alex Montagnani – who wasn’t the first choice for the role reportedly but who, I feel, is the perfect fit for the role. He has the sensitivity and quietness that the role requires, especially when his character’s career is on a downward spiral. And of course being an actual fighter means that he looks the part when its needed too. Plus he’s got serious charisma, which means he pulls of the role of underdog with [seeming] ease.

Gina Gershon rounds out the cast as the owner of the Legends MMA brand, who plays the role as ruthless and money-motivated as you’d expect from someone who puts people in cages to fight for money. Her monologue at the end of the film is truly something to behold, perfectly capturing the sheer bulls*t that is spewed from some folks associated with MMA and pro-wrestling… well, “sports entertainment” more like!

With a realness that will no doubt go down well with MMA and fight fans, Cagefighter: Worlds Collide follows the typical underdog filmmaking cliches telling a story that – as a fan of wrestling and seeing how they use MMA fighters and boxers in their sport – felt familiar but surprisingly never derivative. Instead it’s a great example of how to do the stereotypical story right even on a budget; and a great example of triumph of the human spirit wrought beautifully on the screen.

**** 4/5

Cagefighter: Worlds Collide originally screened on Fite TV.


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