On DVD from director Alex Ranarivelo and Lionsgate Home Entertainment is the story of redemption when you are BORN A CHAMPION.
The story is told by Taco (Maurice Compte) about his friend Mickey (Sean Patrick Flanery), a man who has found the one thing in his life that has meaning – jiu-jitsu. It is the 1990’s going to Dubai for a match as a guest of the Sheik (Ali Afshar), Mickey meets Layla (Katrina Bowden) who is being harassed by the wealthy Dimitris (Costas Mandylor).
Up against fighter Blaine, Mickey does not anticipate that he would cheat leading to the worst injuries he could have imagined. Returning to the United States he finds Layla and starts a family while teaching privately here and there. His other two jobs include being a janitor at a jiu-jitsu business and a bouncer.
Mickey and Taco are more than friends, they are brothers and keep one another steady through their lives. Another friend of Mickey’s is Pittman (Reno Wilson) who brings Mickey into his business to teach which means he does not have to work three jobs any longer.
The first person to be thrilled by this is Years go by and a video of the fight between Mickey and Blaine soon captures the internet by storm as the issue of Blaine cheating comes to the forefront. Someone else who sees the video is Mason (Dennis Quaid) who is interested in Mickey. When a rematch is set between Mickey and Blaine, Mason makes sure that it does not take place because of injuries from the previous match.
When tragedy hits Mickey’s family, it is Dimitris who makes the match happen again in Dubai. Now is his chance to prove that even at his age, he can make what was wrong then become right now.
Flanery as Mickey is a man who has a history that he keeps to himself. Finding something he enjoys doing, meaning jiu-jitsu, he is willing to take whatever job keeps him going. Once Layla comes into his life, he is even more dedicated to taking care of his family and holding down as many jobs as he needs to. Flanery portrays Mickey as a humble man who does not have the same mindset as those around him.
Compte as Taco is clearly Mickey’s best friend and has brought him into his family. That means helping him when he needs it and supporting him even if he does not agree with his fighting choices. The way Compte portrays his character is with nothing but care and love for a friend. Wilson as Pittman remembers Mickey from the first fight in Dubai and sees that he still has the skills. Offering him a teaching job was the best thing for him and Wilson’s portrayal is that of man who believes in supporting all those in the jiu-jitsu community.
Bowden as Layla is a young woman that sees something special about Mickey and their life together is all about love and support. Even if she does not always agree, Layla is willing to bend for Mickey’s happiness.
Quaid as Mason is a promoter of these fights and is very curious about Mickey. Watching the video fight between Mickey and Blaine, he sees danger for his fighter. It is only until later when meeting Mickey face to face does Mason see something totally different.
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The Bluray/DVD and Digital Special Features include: Director’s Commentary, “The Final Fight” with Alternate Score Music and “The Jimmy Fight” with Alternate Score Music.
Flanery has a deep love for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and continues to study the art today. It is very cool that not only did he write the story but has the opportunity to play Mickey, a character he wrote into existence.
The film is very deliberate in its telling and definetly has the 1990’s feel to it. It is definetly a story about redemption but not something Mickey strives for from day to day. That is something I do not think the other characters understood about him. He wanted to be happy with his family and teach something he loves to others.
That being said, given the chance, he takes it but on his own terms – and oh what terms they are!
In the end – once in a lifetime opportunity knocks twice!