Review by Dan Skip Allen
Sports movies can be hit or miss. Sometimes they have just enough melodrama to make them work, but sometimes they have too much schmaltz. The particularly goes for fighting/boxing movies. They need some melodrama, but they need to stay away from the sentimentality. The problem with Born a Champion is it doesn't have enough good melodrama and it has too much schmaltz to be an effective sport or fighting/boxing movie. This isn't a good sign.
Sean Patrick Flannery plays a former marine who's a Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor. He's there for a fighting tournament. On the trip to Saudi Arabia, he meets a model (Katrina Bowden). They strike up a friendship that eventually leads to marriage. They end up living a happy life until something draws the man back into the world of fighting. The film is narrated by his best friend (Maurice Compte) who he's known for a while.
Sports movies need to be inspiring, and Born a Champion isn't. It has a somewhat inspiring story but lacks the execution it needs to lure the audience in. Written and directed by Alex Ranarievelo and co-written by Flannery, the film is way too long and takes forever to get to its main plot thread. It veers off when it should have been a quick return. Some of the second hour could have been cut to make the film tighter in length.
This was obviously a passion project for Flannery. He probably should have gotten some advice on casting himself in the film or not. The cast as a whole just wasn't very good. They all came across as not being very good. They weren't strong enough in their roles. A small role from Dennis Quaid didn't even help this film out, though he was the best thing in the film. Maybe a more professional director could have gotten better actors for these roles. It sank with Flannery at the helm.
The fighting choreography was good, but I've seen better. The acting was wooden and the story was way too drawn out. This film was, at best, like a bad version of Rocky. Stallone did everything much better than Flannery did. It's sad because Born a Champion had some potential. I have seen so many more films in this genre. They were all executed so much better than this film was. The January release date was a dead giveaway this film wasn't going to be good.
Born a Champion hits theaters and VOD on January 22.