Fight to the Finish (2016) – Review

2 Stars

Good son, Sean McGill (Shane Warren Jones) is a highly touted amateur fighter in MMA. Having recently won a local tournament and donated the winnings to his financially struggling parents, Sean is eyeing a professional career in the sport. His father was a former champion (although cage fighting didn’t exist before 1993) that won a hellacious battle in 1985. That sequence opens the film and immediately the budgetary limitations and lack of quality fight choreography are evident. If those things are bothersome for fans of the genre then it’s better to move on, neither improve as the film plays out. However, more forgiving audience members who give this b-movie a shot will be rewarded with the likable screen presence of Shane Warren Jones and an easy flowing story that doesn’t stumble on the way to its fight climax.

On his own for the first time, Sean has just moved into a small apartment and away from his close-knit family. On his second night in the building an altercation breaks out between Sean and his female neighbor’s (Tamara Rey) abusive ex-boyfriend. It’s a close quarters struggle that leaves both men bruised and battered. An enemy has been born, as both men harbor ill will towards the other. Meanwhile, an over-zealous former-fighter turned trainer, Silas (Sal Guerrero) attempts to turn Sean’s buddy Billy (Dillon Olney) into a professional. An old grudge is reignited between Sean’s father and Silas. Seeing a way to settle things, Silas sets up a match between his fighter, the man who happens to be beating Sean’s cute neighbor, and Sean, who is now fighting for his father’s honor.

Fight to the Finish is a mediocre MMA flick. The mother (Jennifer Hale) character is so obnoxious in her transparent aggression towards her son that she alone nearly sinks the entire picture. A re-write should have exercised this wholly unnecessary supporting character. Sharper photography would have helped in disguising the ‘rushed’ feel of the production, a few questionable shots remain in the final cut that are disorienting or ‘soft’. The underground MMA cinematic sub-genre has become rife with features of varying degrees, this title doesn’t rank with Beatdown, but it’s worth a look for those willing to find small pleasures in American independent action cinema.

Director: Warren Sheppard
Stars: Shane Warren Jones,Dillon Olney, Sal Guerrero

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