Movie Review: Brawler

Written by MMARecap Staff on . Posted in Book & Movie Reviews

Brawler Movie Poster

Brawler Movie Poster

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.

Book Review: Hook and Shoot By Jeremy Brown

Written by MMARecap Staff on . Posted in Book & Movie Reviews

Book two of the Woodshed Wallace series Hook and Shoot isn’t due out until November, but we were able to secure an advanced copy of it. Hook and Shoot takes place right after the conclusion of Suckerpunch, and the story is non-stop from till the end.

One thing needs to be made clear, and Hook and Shoot does this better than it’s predecessor. This is an action-thriller story set within the business of mixed martial arts. While it may seem to be an MMA book front and center, it isn’t. MMA is how the book unfolds. This isn’t to take away from the book at all, but it is a smart direction. Think Fast Five in the movie franchise how it wasn’t about “racing” cars but was an action movie first with fast cars second.

Onto the review. As said, it starts off just after Suckerpunch ends. Wallace is waiting for his contract to continue fighting for Warrior, Inc. Calls to the owner are going unanswered and Wallace starts to wonder if everything he just accomplished was for naught.

Then Eddie (the owner of Warrior, Inc) comes to the gym in a limo and has a talk with Wallace. Eddie’s in a mess of trouble from what happened in Wallace’s last fight and as such says that Wallace needs to protect him in order to get the contract to fight for him. This time it isn’t the local gangs that are after him, it’s the Japanese Mafia the Yakuza.

The thrill of the chase and the fear of being hunted is on over the course of a two week period. While not as immediate of a timeframe as Suckerpunch, Brown does a fantastic job at keeping the pacing much the same.

The biggest complaint I had in the previous book was the lack of character development for the major characters and this time we got to delve a bit deeper into some of them. Still there were characters that felt a bit rushed or could have used a bit more depth to them, especially Burch.

With that said, this story surprised me on more than one occasion. The plot twists I was expecting, weren’t there, and others caught me off guard.

Hook and Shoot takes all the good things from Suckerpunch and expands on it. Woodshed Wallace may not be your everyday hero, but he gets the job done. Wallace is now an established character and the stories to follow are likely to be as thrilling as this one.

Book Review: Suckerpunch By Jeremy Brown

Written by MMARecap Staff on . Posted in Book & Movie Reviews

Suckerpunch By Jeremy Brown Book Cover

Suckerpunch By Jeremy Brown Book Cover

As the sport of mixed martial arts continues to grow, many people will try to capitalize on it from various angles and other businesses. There have been several movies made about the sport, some good, most bad and now it seems like it is the time for fictional stories to be published. While I am sure there were others before it, Suckerpunch by Jeremy Brown was the first truly mixed martial arts fiction book I have read.

The stage is set right away, Aaron “Woodshed” Wallace is a fighter who has been fighting his way on the local scene for some time now. He of course has a not so clean past, but what star these days doesn’t?

The basic premise is that he is offered a short notice fight (two days) for the largest mma promotion in the country; Warrior Inc against one of the promotion’s poster fighters. Of course he accepts the fight, and that’s when all hell starts to break.

It’s nearly impossible to detail the plot twists of who is with who without giving away everything, but I will try my best. After the weigh-ins Woodshed wants to kill some time and takes one of his training partner’s sister Marcela out on the town. They run into Larry, an old friend of Wallace’s back from when he was doing some not so legal running and of course he needs help. Wallace agrees and the action begins.

The trio head to a bookie so Larry can settle up his debt with the bookie, only Larry doesn’t have all the funds. Larry tries to explain that there’s a sure thing in Wallace on the next night’s card, and the bookie threatens Larry’s life and tells Wallace he needs to win in order to keep Larry alive. Then of course he sees an opportunity to double his odds and wants to take Marcela with.

Wallace opposes, breaks some bones, and the three leave the bookie’s place. Moments later, Larry is kidnapped but Marcela and Wallace are left alone. The two head back to the hotel where Marcela is staying, Wallace drops her off, then heads to the gym for his night’s rest before the big fight.

In the morning he realizes Marcela isn’t in the gym and that she has been kidnapped. There’s of course only about eight hours give or take for Wallace to find Marcela and make it to his fight. From here, the plot twists come and go quickly, some shocking, others, not so much.

While the premise of the book seems far-fetched, it touches on part of the strength of what makes the sport of mixed martial arts great; teamwork. Wallace knows he wouldn’t be where he was without the help of his team, and as a team they work to figure out what exactly is going on and where Marcela is. Wallace at one point is more disappointed by letting his coach and teammates down, then anything else and it is the central theme.

As stated, the story arch unfolds in the span of a forty-eight hour period, which makes for little stalling in the action. This is both a good thing, and a bad thing. The bad is that the characters all seem under developed. There’s the kinship and loyalty that each of the teammates have, but the hows and whys of coming together, aren’t there. On the flip side, there’s no long drawn out self reflection by any of the characters and the story keeps moving forward.

Overall the book is a great read for fans of thrillers and fans of the sport of mixed martial arts. It does a great job of blending the two realities into one. Suckerpunch is just the first part in a multi-book story, with the second, Hook and Shoot due out in November of 2012.

For those looking for that last quick blurb to try and convince them to read the book, here it is:
In the span of just forty-eight hours, Wallace fights in two sanctioned mma fights, the later for the largest organization in the US, dealing with the local gangs, helps a friend out of a debt, all while trying to save a girl. Suckerpunch is a non-stop thrill ride that never skips a beat and leaves the readers wanting to see more of Wallace.

Jason Steed Revenge Book Cover

Book Review: Jason Steed Revenge

Written by MMARecap Staff on . Posted in Book & Movie Reviews

Jason Steed Revenge Book CoverNormally when you think of books in the mixed martial arts world one thinks of autobiographies and how-to books. But every now and then an author comes along and writes a fiction novel with ties to the mma community. And when I was presented with the chance to review a fiction book, I jumped at it.

There are a couple of things that need to be stated up front about how I perceived the book.

I didn’t read the first book in the series. Revenge is actually the second but I didn’t realize it.
When presented with a book to review, I don’t read the full press release. This is done to not bias my thoughts on the book. Instead I wait till I receive the book and read the teaser on the cover to get an idea of what is going on.

This later point was something I shouldn’t have done. By that I mean I should have read the full press release. The reason for that is the book centers around an eleven year old boy and my first thought was is this serious for adults?

But once I realized that I was not the target audience, it became a much better read. There are several things that a young adult (9-12) would probably just take as is. I know it is called suspension of disbelief. But as an adult, it made it laughable.

The main character Jason Steed is an eleven year old boy. He has mastered several types of martial arts including tae kwon do, kung fu, jiu jitsu, and judo. He’s a black belt in all of them, something most adults know would take a lifetime to master.

The main antagonist was the evil Triad, a not-so-secret group of Chinese whom are trying to over throw the person with power in China and gain control. Their sinister plot? Raise a lot of money to over throw him. How do they raise the money? They make a children’s cereal that is loaded with addictive illegal ingredients and nearly every child in the UK eats it. Once the expansion moves to the US they would have more money to carry out their evil deed.

Ok so with those two slightly absurd to an adult, but realistic to a child, plot points accepted, it is time to get to the actual story telling of the book.

Steed is approached by the SYUI to infiltrate the Triads and figure out the plan and stop it. The book starts of slow in this as the first hurdle for Steed involves him inside a children’s prison for nearly a month. But after he is done with his time, the book takes off.

The chase is underway as Triads are trying to capture Steed and kill him. They of course have help along the way from the SYUI, giving out Steed’s where-a-bouts, all the while Steed is trying to take them down.

The book was a lot of fun, even with several laughable moments. But each time I read something that was on the absurd side, I thought back to all the children’s movies I have seen and realized this is what kids want.

The author Mark A. Cooper did one fantastic thing with the story. He kept bringing it back to the point that Steed was just a kid. Even with all the violence and action surrounding Steed, Cooper made sure to remind the audience that Steed just wanted to be a boy and do things kids do.

Overall the book was a great thrill ride with twists and turns. The action was non-stop and kept me engaged.

Book Review: Let’s Get It On by Big John McCarthy

Written by MMARecap Staff on . Posted in Book & Movie Reviews

Big John McCarthy Let's Get It On! Book Cover

Big John McCarthy Let’s Get It On! Book Cover

When it comes to the sport of mixed martial arts, many people don’t realize how long of a road it has been to get to where we are today. The first UFC event took place on November 12, 1993 and was deemed a huge success at the time. It also was vastly different from what the sport is today.

Let’s Get It On by Big John McCarthy details the entire journey of his involvement with the sport. But it does more than just that. It starts with his childhood and a focus on who he is and evolves into his decisions and actions through out his life.

Many fans would question why a book from the most widely recognized mixed martial arts referee needs to have such a massive focus on his life before he became a referee, but it is the lessons that he learned that forged what he was able to do for the sport.

It became apparent early on that McCarthy was destined to inspire, encourage, and educate others in whatever field he was going to go into. Working tirelessly as a member of the LAPD in several departments, McCarthy moved from department to department taking the most of what he learned from each into the next area.

And while many will find the stories of his time busting gang members or a first hand account of the LA riots intriguing, it is when he starts to detail the history of the UFC that he really shines.

Many people think of the Gracie family as the founders of the UFC. And that is a true statement. The UFC was founded to highlight the Gracie jiu jitsu and how it was the superior form of martial arts.

But it was McCarthy’s quest to further the sport that most fans do not realize. McCarthy was the major factor in determining what are now the “unified rules” of mixed martial arts. After each event he would realize that some things had to change for the betterment of the promotion.

He was there when the UFC held it’s first fight under a regulatory body back at UFC 15; a fact that many people don’t realize. He was working with glove manufactures to ensure that the gloves did what they were supposed to do and would make offer suggested changes as needed.

McCarthy with out a doubt is the largest influence on the sport as we know it today.

What was extremely interesting however was not the journey that the UFC took, rather how McCarthy’s journey with the UFC has shaped his beliefs. Consistently through out the book he mentions his wife or his kids and something he either did for them or missed of theirs.

It wasn’t until he retired from being a referee that he realized how much of what he had done or not done was for the things he loved. But it all came full circle when he stated, “But more than any affirmations I could get from any fighter, more than any rules I wrote or any historic bouts I got to officiate, the greatest accomplishment in my life is my family.”

Underneath the history of the UFC is a fantastic sub-story of how McCarthy has grown as a man. How he has realized what is important to him and what isn’t. He has seen some of the greatest fights in mixed martial arts history, he has had significant changes enacted, all while always thinking about his family.

There are few books that will take you on such a fantastic journey from start to finish, but this is one of them. Let’s Get It On by Big John McCarthy is with out a doubt one of the best books to ever capture the spirit and the mentality of the sport.

Book Review: Brock Lesnar Death Clutch

Written by MMARecap Staff on . Posted in Book & Movie Reviews

Brock Lesnar - Death Clutch Book Cover

Brock Lesnar – Death Clutch Book Cover

When news first broke that Brock Lesnar was writing an autobiography I knew that all a person reading would get is a tiny glimpse into the life of Lesnar.  Through out his career he has been very vocal about wanting to keep his private life private and the book further solidifies that.

The details that previous fighters have given such as Couture, Liddell and Ortiz, are not found in this book.  Lesnar is a private individual and asking him to reveal anything about his life is likely to receive a no-comment.

But Death Clutch gives a peek into the mind of the former UFC heavyweight champion.  Like many fighter autobiographies it starts out with a brief bit about his childhood and life through college.  Unlike what many people assume, Lesnar is not from a wealthy family.  Between his parents and wrestling, he learned several of life lessons that he takes with him today.

The biggest of these lessons is the mindset of striving to be the best.  As Lesnar says, there’s first and then there are the losers.  Every time Lesnar has failed to achieve that first place finish, it further solidified a drive in him to be better.  The scary part about this motivation is how much he has succeeded every time.

Lesnar details his journey through wrestling at college and the decision to join the WWE.  This section of the book is one that many fans will be looking forward to.  Lesnar was told early on by the late Curt Henning that you “get in to get out” when it comes to the WWE.  This means that you need to get in, make your money and get out before the WWE consumes you.

It was very clear that Lesnar wanted to “get in to get out”.  Many wrestlers have said how difficult the life on the road is, and Lesnar pulls no punches when he details what it was like traveling.  The more he traveled the more he wanted out.  The only gripe with this section is the lack of details.  Lesnar had so many memorable matches and storylines in his short period of time in the WWE, but sadly they were left out.  This is probably due to the lack of influence these had on his life.  The important details that he can share are there, but this is definitely a section where the reader is left wanting.

When Lesnar left the WWE, headlines were made.  There are several details of this story that had to be left out due to clauses in contracts and settlements.  This is unfortunate because everyone has wanted to know what exactly happened and again we are not allowed to find out.

Lesnar talks a brief bit about his time trying to become an NFL player.  Everyone knows he was the last one cut and could have become a player had he gone to Europe.  There’s brief bit in his life wasn’t considered a failure, just a step towards competitive fighting.

One of the most successful men in business is Jack Welch.  He stated that while he knew he didn’t know anything about certain aspects of his company, he knew enough to hire the right people to surround himself to be successful.  Lesnar is of a similar mindset.  When he started his fighting career, he decided to build a team and a camp around him first and foremost.

The details of his fights and the preparation leading up to them give fans even more to either love or hate about him.  He holds nothing back when he talks about his disdain for Frank Mir and his respect for Couture.

Fans who want to learn more about the person Brock Lesnar get their chance when he talks about his bout with diverticulitis.  This is the one section where Lesnar actually talks about his personal life and what he was going through at the time.  What many don’t understand is how bad it was and how close his career almost came to an end at that time.

There are two things that are lacking in this book depending on your expectations of the book.  Lesnar doesn’t give many thoughts on his loss to Carwin (though he does mention it) and we don’t learn much about him as a person.  There are several details and stories that could have been told, but were left out on purpose.  As stated, Lesnar is a private man, and for him to reveal the details he did were impressive.

Overall Death Clutch provides exactly what I thought it was going to and more.  Knowing how closed off Lesnar is, I was surprised at what was revealed.  Someday I hope Lesnar is able to reveal more details of what transpired in his WWE career and UFC career.  But if not, this is worth a read by any fan of his.

Book Review: Fighter The Unauthorized Biography of Georges St-Pierre

Written by MMARecap Staff on . Posted in Book & Movie Reviews

Fighter - The Unauthorized Biography of Georges St-Pierre Cover

Fighter – The Unauthorized Biography of Georges St-Pierre Cover

One of my favorite categories of books is without a doubt biography.  There’s just something about learning what makes a person tick and what made them get to where they are today that is intriguing.  This marks the first time that I have read an “unauthorized” biography, but “Fighter The Unauthorized Biography of Georges St-Pierre” does not fail to deliver on several points.

Before we divulge into what the book gets into, a bit of a background on myself.  My first UFC PPV was UFC 56.  Prior to watching “Boiling Point” I had never watched a single minute of mma.  But UFC 56 was my launching point and there has yet to be an event that I have missed.

Being the fanatic that I am, I knew most of the history of the UFC and several of its high profile fighters.  But finding information about a fighter outside of the UFC can and is difficult.  That’s where “Fighter The Unauthorized Biography of GSP” comes into play with the current UFC welterweight champion.

The book starts out with a history lesson on the UFC and how it came about.  While some people may already know the story, there are arguably more fans who do not know a thing about that very first historical event.  Considering how many fighters will mention seeing UFC 1 and what Royce Gracie was able to do is their inspiration, the fans should know and understand this.

The book then chronicles the career path of GSP from his amateur fights all the way through his fight against Josh Koscheck at UFC 124.  The details of each fight make those who remember the fight relive it, and those who hadn’t seen it, be able to picture it crystal clear.

Where the book lacks compared to other biographies I have read of fighters is due in part to the fact that this is an unauthorized biography where as the others were autobiographies.  And by that I mean we do not get to understand what was going through GSP’s head.  Where this would be most interesting would be after his losses to Hughes and Serra.  Both of which provided to be a turning point in his career.

Other insights that would be great to learn about include the changing of his diet, changes in training camps, if he really was partying before the Serra fight just to name a few.

For fans of GSP, this is a must read.  Even if you have personally watched every single fight of his, this will be a great trip down memory lane.  Normally when I read a fighter’s autobiography I can say that I respect a fighter a lot more due to learning what makes him tick.  With this unauthorized version I can honestly say that I am even more impressed with what he has accomplished in his career.

Book Review: Toilets, Bricks, Fish Hooks and PRIDE by Brian Cain

Written by MMARecap Staff on . Posted in Book & Movie Reviews

Toilets, Bricks, Fish Hooks and PRIDE by Brian Cain

Toilets, Bricks, Fish Hooks and PRIDE by Brian Cain

This is not a typical mixed martial arts book by any means.  Most mma books focus on one of two things: the life of a fighter or training techniques.  But Toilets, Bricks, Fish Hooks and Pride isn’t just for mixed martial arts, and maybe that’s what sets it apart from the rest.  The book focuses on the mental game of sport, something that many coaches and fighters overlook.

Cain goes into detail about many different aspects of the mental game.  From setting goals, to focusing on the now, to how you act.  These are all especially important.  There are many little acronyms through out the book to help you remember the important lesson.  ACE and WIN are just two examples (Acting Changes Everything and What’s Important Now respectively).

There is a great deal of emphasis on what you do today.  And it makes sense that’d be a focus.  Too often people state they will do something tomorrow, or they will work on such and such later.  But in reality, there might not be a later; there might not be a tomorrow.

Quality practice, both in drills and game like situations are something that few coaches practice.  Yet it is very important, as Cain has pointed out in the book.

The only complaint I had about the book was as it was drawing to a close, the book got more and more sales pitch for Cain’s DVD set.  I am without a doubt 100% positive that any coach who purchases the DVD set will be greatly ahead of the competition that doesn’t purchase it.

As for the references of Toilets, Bricks, Fish Hooks and PRIDE?  Well you will have to read the book to see what those mean.  The book won’t take too much time to read, and I highly recommend it for any athlete, coach, or really anyone who wants to get more out of their day.

For more information on Brian Cain and his Peak Performance visit www.briancain.com