A cross of Warrior and Fight Club, this independent film features some intense drama mixed in with some pretty decent mixed martial arts action.

The Fontaine Brothers, Charlie and Bobby, spend their nights as mixed martial arts fighters in an underground riverboat fight club run by local mobsters in New Orleans. While elder brother Charlie is level-headed, Bobby tends to constantly let his temper get the best of him. Despite their opposite personalities, the brothers still have respect for each other and help each other. This is noticeable when Charlie is badly injured trying to save his brother from getting beaten by some local thugs.

Two months later, Charlie has decided to give up fighting. He works a day job in construction and is married to longtime girlfriend Kat. Bobby finds himself in a bind and as a result, Charlie decides to take him in. While Charlie works his day job, Bobby continues to fight in the underground matches on the riverboats. However, one night will change the lives of the brothers forever. When Bobby sleeps with Kat, Charlie busts in on them and the once inseparable bond between brothers is completely broken. Charlie decides he must settle the score with his brother the only way he can and that is to go back to the ring.

From director Chris Sivertson comes an intense drama that revolves around two brothers who must settle their differences once and for all by fighting each other. While this theme of brothers duking it out have been used many times, most recently in the film Warrior, this film emphasizes more on the drama between the brothers rather than focus on the action. To be honest, in the case of independent films, the formula actually works well due to the performances of lead actors Nathan Grubbs (who came up with the story with Sivertson) and Marc Senter. The brothers’ opposite personalities are reminiscent of Joel Edgerton’s level-headed physics teacher and Tom Hardy’s hot-headed Marine in WARRIOR. However, the big difference involves the first half of the film where Charlie proves to be a good brother by sacrificing himself to save his brother only to find himself betrayed by him when he has a brief affair with his wife.

While the film relies more on the dramatic portion, the action sequences are surprisingly pretty decent for the independent circuit. Fight choreographer Garrik Palumbo showcases mixed martial arts and the fights look pretty good. The ring fights are enjoyable as they are shot from a spectator’s point of view. To accomplish this, they nicely used some overhead angles well to show techniques. The climatic fight between the brothers brings a sense of brutality as they have one thing in mind and that is to literally attempt to kill the other all because of an ultimate mistake.

Despite a more emphasis on drama rather than action, Brawler does have some pretty decent action mixed martial arts sequences. It truly is a pretty good independent MMA film and it is ultimately worth a rental.


XLrator Media presents a GFY Pictures production. Director: Chris Sivertson. Producers: Nathan Grubbs and Marc Senter. Writers: Nathan Grubbs and Chris Sivertson. Cinematography: Zoran Popovic. Editing: Abe Levy and Phil Norden.

Cast: Nathan Grubbs, Marc Senter, Pell James, Dane Rhodes, Brian Stapf, Garrett Hines, Bryan Batt, Michael Bowen, Kenny Bordes, Sean Paul Braud.