Embattled is the sophomore feature from Russian director Nick Sarkisov, and written by David McKenna (the superb American History X). Steven Dorff (True Detective) stars as an MMA fighter famous for his accomplishments within the cage as well as his lavish lifestyle outside of it. But he’s also an abusive father perpetuating a cycle of parental abuse, and it all comes to a head when his oldest son (Darren Mann – Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) puts on the gloves.
The official plot synopsis is as follows:
Raised by an abusive father, Cash (Stephen Dorff) channels his aggression to become a World Champion MMA fighter. Now accustomed to wealth, adulation, and global popularity, he faces a new challenge when his second son is born with Williams Syndrome. But this time, rather than stand and fight, he runs. While Cash continues to make his fortune in the ring, his eldest son Jett (Darren Mann) becomes the caregiver to his younger brother Quinn (Colin McKenna). When Jett decides to follow his father’s fighting footsteps and take to the fight game, he faces his past head on, embarking on a course inevitably pitting father versus son in a battle which, no matter the outcome, neither can win.
In case you were wondering, Williams Syndrome is a very rare neurodevelopmental genetic disorder which can lead to some potentially life-threatening health issues, struggles with abstract reasoning, spatial awareness, and numbers, but also increased social and communications skills.
Let’s take a look:
If I was a betting man I’d put my money on the dad to win that fight, because while he might be on the wrong side of the age equation, he’s got an overwhelming edge in experience. But since I’m not, and because this movie looks determined to hit all the cheesy sports movie clichés about battling through adversity and overcoming the odds, I think we can all guess with a fair degree of certainty how this will end.
That said, I don’t think this looks half bad. The story comes across as corny and predictable, but the performances look decent, and who doesn’t want to see the arrogant Cash get his well-deserved comeuppance. I was also impressed by the physicality on display – they definitely didn’t pull any punches there.
What do you think?
Embattled is due for release in selected theatres in the US and via on-demand on 20 November. It also stars Karrueche Tran, Colin McKenna, Donald Faison, Saïd Taghmaou, Elizabeth Reaser, and long-time UFC stalwart Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.
Last Updated: October 22, 2020