A fighter goes on a road to redemption after spiraling downward in this indie action drama from Jesse Quinones.
Reiss Gibbons is a five-time light heavyweight champion for the Legends MMA promotion. He has it all. A title, fame, popularity, and is considered promoter Max Black’s “Golden Boy”. Even more exciting, he’s just become a dad to a baby girl. When Reiss gets an offer to defend his title against pro wrestler Randy Stone, he is confident he can beat him easily. Under the eye of his longtime trainer and mentor Markus, Reiss is ready for the fight. However, when Randy proves to be a force to be reckoned with, Reiss finds himself losing the title.
Since the loss, Reiss begins a downward spiral. He loses endorsements, a movie deal, and to shock him more than anything, he learns that his finances are so bad that he’s in the red. When Reiss decides to enter the cage again under a new trainer, the pressure is too much for Reiss. He begins to feel he let everyone down including himself. However, when an opportunity arises for a rematch against Randy, Reiss contemplates making a comeback to redeem himself for both his loved ones and himself.
Mixed martial arts are becoming the rage when it comes to recent martial arts films. With Donnie Yen’s SPL and others along with the Never Back Down franchise, MMA is becoming the rage in the past decade and a half. For this film, we have the rise, fall, and rise again of a champion whose cockiness gets the best of him and ends up nearly losing everything only to find redemption when a rematch is set.
Alex Montagnani does a great job as lead character Reiss, who we see thriving in the MMA circuit and even boasts about being a first-time dad. He gives the viewer a chance to see his various range of emotions from elated to down and out. There are sporadic scenes that allow Montagnani to bring his range as an up-and-coming actor. And to think, Michael Jai White was originally tapped to play Reiss in the film. What’s even more great is that our lead actor is an actual MMA fighter and was originally tapped to be only the film’s fight choreographer and have a small role before upgrading to the lead role.
Gina Gershon channels a Dana White-like energy as promoter Max Black. Her end credits scene is quite funny and will remind viewers of White himself. Jonathan Good, who many know as All Elite Wrestling superstar Jon Moxley, brings his energy from the squared circle to the cage as pro wrestler Randy Stone, who proves that just because you’re a pro wrestler, doesn’t mean you can’t deliver any impact. His brash style is completely natural as we see Moxley churn out this natural performance as Stone. Chuck Liddell makes the most of his screen time in the role of Marcus, Reiss’ mentor and trainer who helped him off the streets as a teen. Luke Rockhold has more of a cameo as a potential new trainer for Reiss during his 1st attempt at a comeback while pro wrestler Jay “Christian” Reso plays the host of a MMA radio show.
Montagnani holds his own as a fight choreographer, showcasing his talent for MMA and even adapting to letting Moxley do a little of his thing. The film’s fight scenes are a mixed bag, with some of the cage fights hindered by an all too familiar technical issue of mixing close-ups and quick cuts, with sometimes a bit of shaky cam. Thankfully, it’s not entirely in that form and we are treated to some decent impact shots to balance out the story of this fighter’s road to redemption.
Cagefighter: Worlds Collide is a bit more drama-focused but for what it’s worth, Alex Montagnani gets a chance to showcase his acting talent as a fighter on a downward spiral and his road to redeem himself. A pretty good supporting cast elevates the film and all in all, worth watching at least one time.
WFG RATING: B-
Screen Media Films presents a Trilight Films and Anamorphic Entertainment production. Director: Jesse Quinones. Producers: Lorianne Hall, Jesse Quinones, Sara Shaak, and Shayne Putzlocher. Writer: Jesse Quinones. Cinematography: Mark Dobrescu. Editing: Tim Thurmeier.
Cast: Alex Montagnani, Elijah Baker, Georgia Bradner, Gina Gershon, Jon Moxley, Chuck Liddell, Luke Rockhold, Jay Reso, Rigan Machado.