Embattled Image


By Lorry Kikta | November 20, 2020

Jett is balancing school and his MMA training, and he’s starting to get good enough to fight professionally, thanks to his father’s training. Then one day, while at Cash’s house, he remembers the exact incident that caused his parent’s divorce, gets extremely angry at his father, and a fight ensues. Cash’s assistant leaks a video of the fight, and then the WFA bigwigs are salivating over the prospects of a Boykins vs. Boykins fight.

While the film’s culmination is an extremely realistic MMA fight, its point is not embedded in the sport. It’s a movie about family trauma and how one overcomes it. Cash passed along his trauma from childhood abuse to his children, and Jett hopes to be nothing like his father when he grows up. It’s a tale as old as time itself. The script, written by David McKenna, is extremely impactful, as are the performances.


“…fight coordinator, Ross Khonstam, and the whole stunt team did an excellent job.”

I knew I would love Dorff because he’s great at playing a**holes, but Darren Mann is now an actor I will be paying a lot of attention to. Elizabeth Reaser gives a very powerful performance as the single mother of two kids, one of whom has special needs. We feel the love she has for her children in the sacrifices she makes for them. Saïd Taghmaoui makes a brief appearance as Jett’s coach in the fight against Cash, and even though it’s not a big part, he delivers, which is not a surprise at all.

Overall, Embattled does have some sports movie tropes—montages, anyone? But, the emotional heft of the film makes it one of the best sports movies I’ve seen. The fight coordinator, Ross Khonstam, and the whole stunt team did an excellent job. I also can’t forget to mention the director, Nick Sarkisov, whose first American film, and second feature overall, really packs an emotional punch… pun not entirely intended. I’m excited to see what he does next because he was able to make me care immensely about a subject I am not all that interested in. That’s the mark of a good director, and Embattled is great because of it.

Embattled (2020)

Directed: Nick Sarkisov

Written: David McKenna

Starring: Stephen Dorff, Darren Mann, Elizabeth Reaser, Donald Faison, Karrueche Tran, Saïd Taghmaoui, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Embattled  Image

"…the film's culmination is an extremely realistic MMA fight..."

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