REVIEW: Fight Valley (2016)

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2016, Salvatore Franciosa Productions/Breaking Glass Pictures

Director:
Rob Hawk
Producers:
Ariel Gramazio
Mike Gramazio
Susan Helfrich
Arthur Maurizio
Rocco Michaluk
Sam Racobaldo
Michael Repsch
Richard Ross
Tom Russick
John Thomas
Joe Tornatore
Bernie Wilson Jr.
Writer:
Rob Hawk
Cinematography:
Michael P. Lucas
Editing:
Stephen Michael Giglio
Christopher Michael Jacobs

Cast:
Susie Celek (Windsor Coro)
Miesha Tate (Jabs)
Erin O’Brien (Duke)
Kari J. Kramer (Yanni)
Cabrina Collesides (Jamie)
Chelsea Durkalec (Tori Coro)
Jefferson Sanders (Shakes)
Ivy Lashawn Coleman (Gracey)
Salvatore Franciosa (Gino Coro)
Bonnie Bruderer (Madison Coro)
Alexandria Williams (Mia)
Cris “Cyborg” Justino (Church)
Holly Holm (Payton)

This female-centric mixed martial arts film is meant to showcase some of the top UFC talents today, or it so it seems. However, that’s not the case and well, it has its good and bad points.

Tori Colo is a young woman who lives near a rundown area called the Valley. She makes money through the world of underworld fighting. She lives with her dad and shares her home with girlfriend Duke and fellow “Knockaround Girls” Yanni and Jamie, who always tend to clash with a rival group led by the very arrogant Gracey, whose man Shakes sets up the underground fights. One night, Tori, in dire need of money, finds herself having to fight in the Valley’s main “arena” the yard. However, she doesn’t survive the fight and she is found the next morning.
The news of Tori’s death hits her older and more classy sister Windsor hard. Determined to get revenge, Windsor enters the area near the Valley and is warned by the Knockaround Girls not to even get involved because of her lack of fighting skills. When Windsor makes the mistake of ticking Gracey off and an altercation puts Duke in the hospital. Enter Jabs, a one-time Valley champion fighter who gave it all up after killing her opponent a year ago. However, her reputation still holds and at first reluctant, she decides to train Windsor to become a fighter so she can discover who killed Tori. Will Windsor prove her mettle enough to get revenge or is something in store for this newcomer to the world of Fight Valley?

It is safe to say that mixed martial arts films are going to keep popping up. This film, written and directed by music video director Rob Hawk, is meant to bring three major female fighters from the Ultimate Fighting Championship to films after the success of one Ronda Rousey. The only problem is that the artwork is seriously misleading. While Holly Holm is on the poster in what looks like it should be a prominent role, she only makes a cameo in one small scene where she has a verbal exchange with ex-Valley champ Jabs, played by bantamweight rival Miesha Tate.

For a film debut, Tate actually holds up pretty well in more of a mentor role as Jabs, who has given up the game but still has her reputation. She takes newcomer Windsor under her wing and uses a no-holds barred approach to her training, including punching her in the face if she messes up. And one would think Peking Opera training is ruthless. As for the character of Windsor, Susie Celek isn’t too bad but definitely needs a bit more work on acting with dramatic effect. She has a tendency to do the duck lip a little too more than expected. However, this being her first film role, it can be somewhat forgiven.

The other UFC fighter to make an appearance is Cris Justino, known as Cris Cyborg. She plays Church, a member of Gracey’s crew who does get her action in. It is safe to say that while the acting isn’t up to par with the exception of Miesha Tate, Erin O’Brien, and at times Kari J. Kramer (as the urban-speaking Yanni), the action has both its ups and downs. Under the choreography of Erik Aude, one would expect a movie with three UFC fighters to bring a style akin to the Octagon. Sadly, that’s not the case and the fights are ultimately a mixed bag because we don’t really get a chance to see some real good one-on-one matches as opposed to more group fights. Some are okay, some are just not too good due to its bad editing.

Ultimately, Fight Valley can be described as a MMA film that is just a time waster, but don’t let that take away from Miesha Tate, who pulls off a decent film debut role as an ex-champ turned mentor. Plus, the film does end with quite an interesting twist that is pretty unexpected.

WFG RATING: C+

DVD

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