Director: Chris Sivertson
Screenplay: Chris Sivertson
Cast: Marc Senter, Nathan Grubbs, Pell James, Bryan Batt, Michael Bowen
Producers: Nathan Grubbs, Marc Senter
Print Source: GFY Films
Writer/director Chris Sivertson exploded onto the dark cinema scene with his merciless 2005 adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s equally unforgiving novel, THE LOST, showing a knack for multi-character narrative, grim tension, graphic violence and general bad behaviour. His bigger-budget 2007 follow-up I KNOW WHO KILLED ME with professional train wreck Lindsay Lohan showed the same knack for naughty. Its merits as a contemporary, straight-up, high-gloss exploitation film, one dripping with colour and manic energy, are only now being recognized.
But Sivertson’s aesthetics reach their peak in his latest film BRAWLER, co-starring and co-produced by his lead from THE LOST, Marc Senter (also the star of last year’s Fantasia hit RED, WHITE & BLUE). It’s a kinetic tale of two brothers (Senter and Nathan Grubbs) who find themselves bloody-torso-deep in a vicious, bone-breaking, jaw-smashing and life-taking underground “fight club” on skuzzy mafia-run riverboats in New Orleans. As their bouts get increasingly deadly (Senter in particular gets to show off his intense martial arts training), and their corrupt, monstrous bosses loom, their own relationship threatens to get even more explosive when a dose of femininity (personified by SURVEILLANCE and FANBOYS’ lovely, ethereal up-and-comer Pell James) rocks their tenuous, testosterone-fueled world.
Strikingly shot by DP Zoran Popovic, his camera leering into gaping wounds and the lively Louisiana nightlife, filled with music and apparently edited with a switchblade, this wincingly violent, cheeky romp makes the early work of Guy Ritchie and even Martin Scorsese (which it shares more than a few tonal traits with) look like MR. DRESSUP by comparison. Rough, tough and ultra–stylishly directed, BRAWLER is a dynamite slab of volatile, good-time crime-drama shock, certainly not for the faint of heart but guaranteed to please the rowdier crowds. But as rough around the edges as the picture gets, and as driven by music and visual artifice as it is, Sivertson never skimps focus on the core story of the picture, nor does he ever sacrifice the fully-fleshed characters. And the whole sordid show is apparently based on a true story… believe that or not.