Competitive fighting has been apart of the movie scene for nearly as long as I can remember it. There are several movies that have secured a fond memory and several that were just flat out ridiculous. Thankfully, Brawler doesn’t fall into that second category.
The story revolves around two brothers; Charlie and Bobby Fontaine. Both are fighters who fight onboard a ship just off the coast of New Orleans. Obviously the fights aren’t sanctioned, nor legal, but that doesn’t mean they don’t follow some sort of rule set.
Most of the fighting movies decide that the only way to finish a fight is to render your opponent unconscious or just flat out kill him. Brawler allows for fighters to tap out by way of a submission, which is impressive considering there isn’t a ref to stop the fight when a tap does happen.
Before diving deeper into the realness of the fighting scenes, the plot needs to be addressed. Bobby, the younger brother, is of course reckless and doesn’t always play by the book. He’s involved in several illegal activities and owes the wrong people money. Charlie of course seems to have his life together.
When Bobby’s dealings catch up with him, a group of thugs come to send him a message by beating him up and destroying his property. Charlie comes running to the rescue and the two brothers clear the house of their attackers. As they are leaving, one comes back and hits Charlie square in the knee with his paddle, ending what was potentially a career in fighting.
Charlie takes a job in construction while Bobby’s dealings seem to spiral worse and worse. Unbeknownst to Charlie, Bobby spends time with Charlie’s wife and winds up sleeping with her. Charlie comes home to see the two together and all hell breaks loose between the two brothers.
The fight is separated and the challenge was thrown down by Charlie that he could beat him anywhere. Thus, Charlie gets back into training for a fight against his brother.
The message was clear from the start of the movie and was delivered well throughout. Charlie would do anything to protect his brother, even if it included fighting him. Bobby of course doesn’t come to realize this until the end of the film.
The fighting in the movie is very well done. While the fights don’t seem to have many rules, other than win by knockout or tapout, it was good to see mostly realistic moves being performed. There were of course a couple of things that were either unlikely or unbelievable, but overall it was well done. The big complaint I had was Bobby was clearly proficient in performing armbars as shown in a previous fight, yet when he was being strangled ala Homer Simpson to Bart Simpson, he didn’t even try to attack the limb.
Overall the movie was entertaining and enjoyable. Would it be a box office smash? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching. This film is likely to become one of those talked about and passed on by word of mouth and have a decent following on the home market.