Embattled: Film Review


Stephen Dorff wins the prize for playing the worst onscreen dad so far this year. His character in Embattled is a piece of work.

The film tells the story of Cash (Dorff), a pro MMA fighter at the top of his game, and his son Jett (Darren Mann), who is training to be one. Cash is a loud, brash alcoholic on a power trip who objectifies women and insults everybody. He was abusive to Jett’s mum, his ex-wife Susan (Elizabeth Reaser), and has only recently rekindled a father-son relationship with Jett, while completing ignoring the existence of their other son – the disabled Quinn (Colin McKenna). Cash and Jett finally get to hash out their differences in the ring after being offered a big payday for a father-son face-off.

Dorff perfectly encapsulates the essence of Cash. He is fully believeable as this grade A asshole with a giant chip on his shoulder. He treats everyone like dirt – including his current wife Jade (Karrueche Tran) – and feels like he doesn’t owe his ex anything, despite him having multiple houses and her struggling to make ends meet.

Because his character is so unlikable, despite Dorff being the bigger name here, you side with Mann and Reaser. They’re the underdogs and you want them to win. Mann puts in a sensitive and compassionate performance as Jett, who is dealing with the trauma of his dad’s behaviour when he was a kid and the responsibility of doing right by his mum and brother. Reaser seems exhausted and just fed up of having to deal with Cash (understandably so). Tran’s Jade seems like she wouldn’t stand up to him at first but you just wait – she can put him in his place.

This drama may not be super original but the characters and the relationships between them were interesting enough to keep me watching, although it could have been slightly shorter. It may take a while to get to the climactic fight but it’s worth the wait – it’s dramatic, nail-biting, riveting stuff.

On digital download from Monday 5th July

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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