Few other activities bring together danger, sportsmanship, and hand-to-face combat like mixed martial arts (MMA). Despite the dramatic potential of such a high intensity, skillful sport, it doesn’t seem to have much of a presence in Hollywood. To create an MMA oasis in a barren land, directors Adam Boster and Kenneth Chamitoff present the 2012 film “Money Fight”.
“Money Fight” surrounds young MMA hopeful Johnny (Ernie Reyes Jr.) and his journey to get into the ring. He desperately begs his coach Gene (Ving Rhames) to take a chance and let him fight for a cash prize. Unfortunately, Johnny is told that he isn’t ready and that he should find a real job. Unable to face reality, Johnny agrees to take a seedy muscle job, ending with him serving a stint in prison.
After five long years of being top seed in the prison fighting ring, the warden Harbin Rask (John Savage) grants Johnny parole—as long as he’s willing to participate in a high stakes match against an undefeated fighter in order to settle an age old feud between the warden and his rival, the MMA mogul Krang (George Takei).
Though the chances of Johnny defeating Krang’s chosen fighter, the terrifying Torch (played by Gray Maynard, who is a successful MMA fighter in his own right) seem slim, Johnny is supported by a strong family unit, especially his mother Maria (Maria Conchita Alonso).
While “Money Fight” is based around an extremely specialized sport, you don’t need a great deal of MMA knowledge to enjoy the film. The fight scenes, choreographed by the legendary martial artist Ernie Reyes Sr. (who is both Ernie Reyes Jr.’s father in real life and in the film) are intricate, elaborate, and exciting. Be prepared for elbows to be thrown and chairs to be smashed.
“Money Fight” is first and foremost an MMA movie, but it’s also a tale of redemption and the importance of a family, whether it’s by blood or the family you create on your own. Though the film does have a PG-13 rating, it would be acceptable for families with older children — provided they won’t try out the MMA moves on each other after watching.
By Julienne Graebner │ August 20, 2020
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