Indie Film Review “Blood Circus”


Pics courtesy of Sweeney Photography


First, the Recap:

An outlet for rage. Pent up with no immediate means of release, anger and frustration can build to a boil. Even when desiring to, perhaps, turn over a new leaf, the past can always find its way back into your path. The question then becomes, with everything on the line–what would you do to salvage what you truly desire? Former MMA champion Sean “The Killin” Dillon (Jamie Nocher) had it all. Utilizing his skills to maximum effect, he reigned in the ring while enjoying the beauty of a family with his wife Sherry (Christy Carlson Romano) and young son Mikey (Brandon White). However, the grass is no longer greener in retirement, and Sean finds himself severely down on his luck, separated from Sherry and Mikey, and having no true options for improving his situation.

Already having caused a ruckus in a local bar run by Sherry’s father Rocco (Vincent Pastore), things only seem to be getting worse until Sean is approached by a shadowy fight promotor named Deke (Robert LaSardo) who entices Sean with the underground fight club known as the Blood Circus. Despite a promise made to his surrogate “father” and uncle Det. Jake Dawson (Tom Sizemore) to turn his life around, Sean enters the ring once more only to find a kill or be killed arrangement as the only rules and the Blood Circus’ sociopathic leader Santos (Kevin Nash) bent on blackmailing Sean to remain as a “contestant”  or otherwise be exposed to or lose those he treasures most. Soon, it’s a race against time for Sean and Jake to put an end to the barbaric club and its creator.

Next, my Mind:

Ok, let’s just be honest. It’s more than fair to state that “fight films” are a dime a dozen in the movie realms, with everyone making the attempt to take full advantage of the current MMA/UFC mania sweeping the country while also attaining to present this concept in a suitably entertaining way on screen. With this 87-minute indie film effort, this reviewer feels it can be argued that director Jacob Cooney both succeeded and fell short. Now, it does need to be understood that being an independent effort, some aspects of the final product aren’t going to measure up compared to Hollywood’s massive budget offerings and quality. This remains true here for the overall scope in that the narrative itself is surely nothing new, the characters are pretty much cliché, and it’s just hard to not be thinking “been there, seen this–a LOT”.

However, take into account then the sheer magnitude of what it takes to actually make a film, and if anything, you might then realize that for all its faults, there is some entertainment value to be found here. The fight sequences are definitely not the most smoothly choreographed I’ve seen, even borderline awkward at times, but the brute, bloody rawness they possess still impacts you as a viewer. Also, the concepts in general of an fallible hero overcoming the odds, fighting for more than just himself, and taking down evil all still works here, at least for me, regardless of certain lack of polish as a whole. The cinematography is solid, and it follows the action well enough. The pacing is decent since at under ninety minutes, events need to unfold briskly to ensure the plot is wrapped up nicely but doesn’t drag too much. For that matter, I personally never expected Hollywood greatness from this to start with, so it allows a better perspective to view this effort from when keeping expectations at an appropriate level.

Nocher is decent as Sean, a man pressured by his own self-made fall from glory and the life he used to have, wanting to regain some dignity while at least being able to still protect those he treasures most. His attitude is understandable, his actions impetuous and brought about by inner anger, but he’s still striving to be a better person, and Nocher embodies this enough to get by, all the while carrying a fighter’s physique if not quite the choreographed fighting chops to be completely believable as former MMA. Romano is well cast as Sean’s now-ex Sherry, who very much still carries a torch for him, but ultimately feels it is more healthy for everyone that they’re no longer together.  Her love for Mikey is deep, and she still desires Sean to be a part of his life, but only if he gets away from trouble. Plus, Sherry is strong and independent here, not just some “damsel in distress”, so that aids things as well.

Sizemore, just given the fact he has done some amazing level work in Hollywood, does seem a little wasted here as Sean’s uncle and police detective Jake Dawson. But, there’s just no denying even when he seems weaker, Sizemore still finds a way to shine, even if just a little. LaSardo is fine as shady fight promotor Deke, menacing look at all. Nash is only seen a little but heard a lot as Blood Circus head Santos, but he’s really more a stereotypical, not a memorable, villain. Pastore as Sherry’s father Rocco befits him perfectly, a tough guy with a heart of gold. Other support arrives from Nana Gouvea as Dawson’s partner Cooper, Tom DeNucci as Sherry’s current beau Ricky, Jeremy Fernandez as Simon, a teen betting on the live online fights, Chelsea Vale as his girlfriend Monica, Kristal Marshall as Santos’ head of security Athena, as well as Johnny Hickey & Kim Mulhauser.

In total–to Cooney, DTLA Entertainment Group, Octane Entertainment, plus producers Charles Lago, David Gere, and Christopher G. Johnson–“Blood Circus” may not be greatness, but it is by FAR not the worst indie film effort I’ve seen and was a diverting bit of mindless fun. So, stay the course, keep improving, and know that I applaud the effort of all involved. Anything less honestly wouldn’t be appreciating independent cinema, where expecting MORE might sometimes be premature, but expecting ONLY LESS is a big mistake when the filmmaker’s determination, fortitude, and passion for their art are paramount.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!


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