Brawler Chris Sivertson

Brawler Chris Sivertson
Whether by moral or physical superiority, Brawler is all about being the bigger man. Two brothers milk the goodwill of their father's minor celebrity as a tough S.O.B. to gain some stature in the world of underground fighting. However "based on true events" this story may be, the combative siblings fulfil broad archetypes. Charlie (newcomer Nathan Grubbs, whose idea spurred the script) is the tough, respectful and reliable older brother; Bobby (Marc Senter, Cabin Fever 2) is the rash, impulsive, younger fuck-up, desperate to look down on the man he's always looked up to. A few fights set up the power dynamic between the brothers, some inside the ring and, more significantly, outside of it, when Bobby gets in over his head with the mob and Charlie dashes to his rescue, only to receive a crippling knee injury for his troubles. Bobby grows increasingly resentful when Charlie welcomes the opportunity to retire his knuckle wraps. His ungrateful territorial pissing encroaches on Charlie's home life, gradually setting into motion "one last fight," which is like catnip for strutting alpha males. The slim runtime and straightforward cause-and-effect plot provide little room for these characters to express anything not tied to the story's ultimate trajectory, but the basic human conflict between choosing forgiveness or revenge as ego sustenance flowing beneath all of the swinging fists and submission holds is reasonably well drawn. What injects some life into Brawler is the setting: a New Orleans riverboat. The rich, funky swing of a house brass band scores each fight as it's happening, while the legion of soulful music types inherent to the environment colour each scene with appropriate swagger when the boys do a different sort of sparring outside of the boat. It doesn't hold a candle to the complex characterizations and accomplished filmmaking of like-minded fraternal knuckle-duster Warrior, but little does, so if you're interested in animalistic conflict resolution, Brawler is a worthwhile undercard match. (Anchor Bay)