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Precision MMA Movie Review
“The Smashing Machine”
The Smashing Machine offers a look at the sport of mixed martial arts from the perspective of Mark Kerr. A juggernaut of a man, Kerr was at one point the most feared man in the sport of MMA. The film’s title is an allusion to the nickname Kerr earned while fighting in Brazil and completely mauling the competition. Kerr is a throwback from the time of true no holds barred. When he began his career bouts were contested bareknuckle, tactics such as headbutts were not only legal but encouraged. The filmmakers travel deep into Kerr’s psyche and expose his inner most fear, strength, gameness and vulnerability. This is definitely an intense film, but a must see for all Poughkeepsie MMA fans.
Kerr entered mixed martial arts (MMA) as a champion wrestler who was always one step away from realizing his Olympic dream. He fought not for the competition or inner satisfaction, but rather out of a sense of desperation. He had invested his entire life in a sport that offered no monetary reward. He saw fighting as a way to make money off his wrestling skills. Despite being a Goliath, Kerr speaks of the intense anxiety that overcame him before his first bout. His nerves were so uncontrollable he couldn’t even keep down a glass of water. The only sensation which outweighs the fear of the fight is the thrill of victory. Kerr talks about being ignited by the roar of the crowd and the high of winning. Kerr would go on to win the UFC title and find success in Pride. Kerr was so imposing that, on multiple occasions, after he hit his opponents they would crawl out of the ring and refuse to fight him. He didn’t simply make them quit, they ran for their life.
However, despite his pugilistic omnipotence in the ring, outside Kerr is a soft spoken and timid man plagued by deep seeded personal demons. The wear and tear of training and accumulation lifetime of injuries leaves Kerr with a sever painkiller addiction, one that nearly takes his life. The cameras are rolling when friends gather at Kerr’s bedside, following an overdose, begging him to stop his destructive lifestyle.
The film shows Kerr as a sympathetic character whose life is a tumultuous swing from extraordinary successes to devastating lows. The film’s climax is the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix where Mark will be competing for a grand prize of $200,000. However, in order to win he knows he may have to go up against his best friend and training partner – Mark Coleman.
The Smashing Machine is a must see for true fight enthusiasts. For Poughkeepsie MMA fans it shows the ugly side of fighting, past the glitz and glamor or stardom, the true grind. Kerr deals with training partners not showing up, fights getting cancelled and rules being broken. He struggles with his diabetes and endless laundry list of injuries. He shows how overwhelmingly stressful a fight can be and crazy girlfriends and personal demons run rampant once fight time approaches. He reveals that no matter how confident, strong, or well prepared a fighter may seem on the surface they are haunted by thoughts of inadequacy, self-doubt and fear.
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