I love a good documentary, one that informs, educates or even draws you into a world you’ve never seen before. Fightville is not one of these documentaries. It’s particularly heartbreaking because it has so much potential for being exactly that, but falls far short of that goal. It’s actually frustrating watching the film, having your interest peek (however slight) only to have the filmmakers not complete the process of providing the audience with a fulfilling experience. If you’re already a fan familiar with this world then you’re likely to really enjoy this small journey. However, most people are not and will remain unaware of the intricacies of a fascinating sport after viewing Fightville.
My main problem with the film is that it seems that the filmmakers have taken a lot for granted. The film just jumps right in with an unknown voice describing a world that has yet to be defined. The film is obviously about fighting, but what kind and at what level? It seems like it takes forever before we, the audience are told that we are entering the lower echelons of the world of Mixed Martial Arts, and that we will be following a couple of coaches as they train two young men of potential. But what level are we starting at? What is the ultimate goal beyond winning the next fight? What are the heights to which these athletes can rise? If I’m not mistaken this is the sport of Tito Ortiz and one could ultimately end up competing in Las Vegas in front of enormous crowds for outrageous amounts of money, but I could be mistaken and no one in the film has bothered to provide this frame of reference.
What is great about the film is the story of these dedicated trainers and fighters. There is a passion expressed through their words and actions that is infectious. Gil Guillory is an aspiring P.T. Barnum type whose whole family (from his wife to his young children) participates in the grass roots promotion of the fights he sets up. Tim Credeur is obviously an experienced fighter (although we are not told about his past) who is dedicated to grooming the next generation. His gym may be located in a strip mall, but he expects nothing less than total commitment. Dustin Poirier and Albert Stainback are the two young fighters who we follow as they train and fight, sneaking peeks into their personal lives along the way, and yet we are given very little information. It’s more like hints and suggestions.
Because these men are so determined you really want to rout for them and see them succeed. Sadly, you just don’t get the full feeling of emotion you should from either the successes or the disappointments, because it just hasn’t been explained thoroughly enough what’s exactly at stake. The fault has nothing to do with the subject matter, but lies squarely with the filmmakers. The material is obviously there. I just think it was handled haphazardly, resulting in a less than stellar representation of an exciting sport. Which is really too bad since this may be the first and only introduction many people have to one of the fastest growing sports in the world. After watching Fightville they’re going to be left wondering what all the fuss is about, instead of joining the excitement.