Docfest – The Fighter Review

Dir – Susanne Binninger

‘They fight in cages. Because they want to and because others want to see this. Andreas Kraniotakes Khalid Taha and Lom-Ali Eskijev are professionals in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). They fight in duels on stage using all means permitted. They work hard and live ascetically often under precarious conditions. Their lives are marked by friendship discipline and unconditional respect for each other and for their opponents. Kraniotakes Taha and Eskijew share the dream of being recognized as athletes and of being successful on an international level. They have to pay a high price for this. In Germany MMA fighters are rarely respected as athletes and can hardly live from fighting. They are under great pressure: as modern gladiators they may not age may not get injured – and actually must not lose’

Now Anyone that knows me knows how much I love MMA and martial arts in general, so when I was asked by Theo Cane to review this documentary as part of the Slime House Docfest coverage I was more than happy to see if the film pact as much of a punch as i had hoped!

‘Fighter’ is directed by Susanne Binninger, and follows Andreas Kraniotakes, Lom Ali-Eskijew and Khalid Taha, who are three MMA athletes based in Germany at varying stages of their careers. Kraniotakes is the wily veteran, 35 years of age with many fights under his belt.
Fun fact, anyone who played the EA Sports MMA game released in 2010 might Recognise Andreas Kraniotakes from the player roster!

Lom-Ali is the somewhat reserved fighter who is up and coming but seems somewhat unsure of himself, and at times seems to have questionable discipline in his pre-fight preperations (don’t munch bread while you’re weight cutting Lom!).

Khalid is the up and coming beast, undefeated and confident in his ability to remain so. Together, they show three entirely different perspectives on the pre-fight ethics andrituals which are involved in preparing for combat.

The documentary has a very close and personal feel to it, which can be felt during the fights. I don’t know what sort of agreement the documentary team had with the fight promotion, but I swear they managed to get a mic on Kraniotakes actual body, as every single hit sounds absolutley brutal! Really makes you appreciate that even a strike that seems like a short light shot landed on TV, actually has a thud or a crack to it which sounds equally as vicious as the power shots which make you wince.

By the end, we see each man go through highs and lows both personally and professionally, and while I already fully appreciate all the sacrifices fighters make and the hardships they go through, it’s great to see this done in a way which will make people who are unaware of MMA leave this documentary having a new found respect for the sport. The way this way filmed they have no choice. Discipline and sacrifice and two key elements here and you have to respect that shit.

All in all I’d reccomend Fighter to people who were not fans of MMA rather than MMA fans, as we all appreciate and understand the things this documentary conveys already. However, for those of you still in the dark or perhaps have a perception that the sport is a barbaric throwback to the days of ancient Rome, maybe you should give this one a watch and get yourself a new perspective on the art of war.

Words by BAzebub

Special thanks to DOCFEST