Its 2:02 pm
Been in a bit of a rut when it has come to watching films lately,hence why the big gap between my reviews. Maybe its the lockdown,maybe I’m restless,maybe because its damn April and my mind is just somewhere else. Okay,its the last one…..I just have a hard time focusing during this time…but the cheetah came by and dropped both the remote and film sent to us by the amazing Jenna from TriCoast called “Shiner”.
I had no idea what the film was about so at 5 am this morning,the cheetah and I took it for a spin.
The film opens up with and we meet young Matt Bradford (Seya Hug) walking into a gym where he watches two MMA fighters sparing. Both fighters in the ring are pretty good as they tussle for a round.
After they finish,Matt walks to the man he has been looking for,Happy McBride (Kevin Bernhardt). Matt wants Happy,once a top level contender in his own right,to hopefully take Matt under his wing to train him. Matt has shown promise with a 6-0 MMA record but he needs a trainer/manager to get him to the next level.
He finds Happy at the gym and shows Happy his fights on his video but also he knows how good Happy once was. Happy says he doesn’t manage anyone nor does he want to but Matt talks him into getting him one fight,a fight Matt has to pay for!
Of course its a non-sanctioned fight and the fighter Matt faces is not only much larger but is one of the fighters Happy was watching earlier when Matt met him. Happy then coaches BOTH fighters much to Matt’s surprise….Matt gets knocked out and wakes up in his van. Instead of being raging mad,he tracks down Happy through a man he has never met…he tells Matt where Happy’s daughter works as a waitress and says Happy will be close to the diner – its clear the stranger really doesn’t like Happy.
Matt enters the diner and meets Nikki (Shannon Staller),Happy’s daughter but doesn’t tell her what her old man has done. He finds Happy by following Nikki to a fleabag motel where Happy is staying. He waits til Nikki leaves and then to Happy’s door. Matt sees him selling new gear to various folks. He knows Happy is just scraping by. Matt confronts Happy and instead of raging at him he ,only asks him to get a fair fight. Behind all of his bluster,Happy finally relents and gets Matt a fight that pays 3,000.00
Matt wins in dominating fashion,gets his money back from Happy from the first fight and also catches the eye of promoter Larry Crowley (Brian T. Finney) who wants to promote Matt. When Happy sees this and having known Larry when he first started,he suddenly decides to manage Matt because he wants something as well…..something no one sees coming. Because Happy has his demons and he wants a chance to redeem himself…..
Man……”Shiner” is a solid film highlighted by Bernhardt’s performance as Happy.
It helps that Bernhardt wrote the screenplay so he knows exactly who Happy is and how to play him. Happy is a complete rogue and is always on the hustle but tragedy and sadness have shaped him this way. He should have been a champion but in watching the film,you find out why Happy is who he is,his heart is big but it has a lot of cracks and chips in it. Despite everything he does to Matt,you’ll still can’t completely dislike him.
This film could have been really special if the role of Matt had been played by a more experienced actor because Hug is so wooden you could build a house and this a shame because the rest of the cast is pretty good. But one thing Hug does provide and that he is a real fighter and the fight scenes are pretty good as director Sao Mutarevic knows his way around a ring. The script is crisp and dialogue seems lefted straight from gyms and MMA fights which adds real flavor to the film.
The cheetah spotted a familiar face who did a non-speaking walk through and had me play it back and sure enough,there was Lydie Denier was being seated by Nikki in a diner scene,that was a fun touch….
All in all,”Shiner” is worth a look just based on Bernhardt’s performance alone.
The film is rated “R” for language and has a run time of 90 minutes. This was a promo copy so I don’t know if there are any special features.
The cheetah and I gave “Shiner” two thumbs up.
What fight movie do you like that is considered “under the radar”? Drop a comment below.