Victor Pham was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States as a child. His family settled in Oakland, California, where an involvement in gang activity during his youth threatened to steer him to the wrong side of the American dream. He eventually jettisoned the gang life and the urban jungle, relocating to the small town of Defiance, Ohio, where he established a successful nail salon. As a way of helping local at-risk youth, he runs a mixed martial arts (MMA) training center in his salon after the store is closed.
Although Pham’s American success story is inspiring and the sight of teenage boys going through MMA exercises in a nail salon is more than a little amusing, this off-beat slice-of-life tale somehow does not translate into a compelling short documentary. It is easy to imagine Pham and his young athletes as the focus of a five-minute segment on a local newscast. But at 15 minutes, however, this well-intended profile is stretched to the fraying point, and the subject becomes a bit of a bore.