Mexico: La Pistola y El Corazon
Thailand: Fortunate Son
Senegal: If I Should Fall from Grace with God
Israel: Masters of War
With Boxing and UFC hot on the minds of many sport enthusiasts of late, there really couldn’t be a better time for Netflix to drop their latest documentary series, Fightworld. Diving headfirst into the cultural hearts of fighting disciplines around the world, actor and martial artist Frank Grillo enthusiastically explores various disciplines from wrestling to muay thai, bringing a positive spin on a sport many frown upon. With only five episodes and a distinctly different flavour to each one, Fightworld is an impressively shot and important documentary, showing just how positive fighting can be for communities and individuals around the world.
The series begins in the sticky heat of Mexico City where Frank learns from Julio César Chávez about the Mexican discipline of Boxing. From here, Frank flies around the world exploring the cultural and societal impact fighting has had on countries and the positive affect it has had on different people. From drug addictions to mental health problems, Fightworld shows a whole range of people from different walks of life, showcasing just how beneficial fighting has been for their lives. From boxing to muay thai through to wrestling and Israel’s unique survivalist fighting, there’s a whole range of fighting styles explored and dissected. Each are broken down to the basics for our benefit before looking at the more famous names in that chosen field and its history. In terms of nailing a distinct documentary format, Fightworld boasts a bit of everything here with a mixture of educational history and hard-hitting stories whilst maintaining a distinctly positive spin on proceedings. As a personal gripe it would have been nice to see more kick boxing and pure martial arts, but given how well this first season has done, it only whets the appetite at the thought of a second season.
There’s a distinctly different style to each of the five episodes too which really helps give the series a more dynamic appeal rather than falling into a formulaic style copy and pasted across each episode. From the cleverly edited Thailand episode that jumps back and forth between training and a big fight to the handheld cameras dominating the final episode in Israel, the episodes feel suitably unique. They do all have similarities though and whether it be the neon pink stock writing or showcasing the flag of the country when introducing a new episode, Fightworld tackles its subject matter with respect and enough visual splendour to keep it aesthetically pleasing throughout.
Fightworld may not be the best sport documentary released this year but it’s certainly up there in terms of what it sets out to achieve here. With a respectful view on the sport and a significant chunk of time dedicated to showing just how positive fighting has been for various communities and groups of people around the world, Fightworld does an excellent job educating people about how beneficial fighting can be in the right circumstances. The final episode says it best – everyone fights but only some do it in a disciplined way. Fightworld is simply a must-watch, especially for those with negative connotations attached to the sport, to truly see how helpful this can be to people around the world. The world needs a little more positivity right now and Fightworld is just the breath of fresh air it deserves.
Verdict - 8.5/10