Choke (1999) Poster


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Why can't Hollywood movies be as exciting as CHOKE?
chassidimdavid22 September 2000
Combining the behind-the-scenes footage of a sports documentary and the structure of a Hollywood dramatic feature, CHOKE is a completely original and provocative film. Alternating the stories of 3 of the 8 fighters of the Vale Tudo--a no-holds-barred fighting tournament held in Tokyo--during the months leading up to the event, Goodman is able to capture what so many Van Damme movies have failed to do: put you in the mind set of a fighter: the adrenaline, the fear, the pain, the shame, the glory. Goodman resists making overt judgments about whether these violent events are good or bad, but he does so deliberately; by avoiding investigating or answering the question head-on, he allows the characters to develop and express HIS feelings simply through THEIR action. His voice is heard, but not identified as his. This is nimble and talented directing. But the Director's steady hand does not resist exposing the personal hypocricies of the fighters, nor does he shy away from the occasional cynical moment. The 3 fighters CHOKE follows are so different from each other that one might think they were cast. But I don't think you could cast so realistically. No one would believe it. RICKSON GRACIE is the handsome, unbelievable talented, undefeated World Champion ju-jitsu wrestler from Brazil who puts his family's heritage on the line every time he fights. He risks losing everything he stands for if he will be defeated. (The training footage of him in unbelievable!). TODD HAYES is the huge pro-football player who figths in order to pay for a bobsled so he can compete with the US Olympic bobsledding team. KOICHURO KIMURA is the overgrown man-child who fights because his wrestling coach wants him to, it seems. (the only slowish parts of CHOKE are those that follow Kimura's plight--and even these become exciting at the end...). I looked for other documentaries or features from the Director but could not find any. If CHOKE is his first film, I can't wait to see his second. Bravo.
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jimmy_the_grappler2127 April 2004
The user who posted before sounds extremely biased. I have been into NHB/MMA fighting for a number of years. Rickson Gracie is now in his 40s. One cannot expect him to come out and fight the best fighters who are in their 20s. During his time, Rickson Gracie was the greatest fighter on the planet.

The movie is an awesome look at the life an NHB fighter during the early years of the sport. Rickson is one of the nicest people one could ever meet. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who is a fight fan. His style of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is something that leaves everyone in awe.

One thing I especially liked about this movie is the way they show Rickson training. He definitely has some very unorthodox training techniques to prepare for his fights.

A side note: His son who is shown in the movie with him, Rockson, died in a motorcycle accident a few years ago. Many believe this to be the nail in the coffin for Rickson's retirement from the sport.
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An insight into the Gracie legend
zulu98125 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This film follows Rickson Gracie, champion of the Gracie family, as he prepares to defend his open-weight freestyle title at the 1995 Vale Tudo world championships in Japan in 1995. Vale Tudo is a Brazilian term that literally means "anything goes": this fighting format has existed in Brazil for decades but gained mainstream success when another Gracie (Rorion) set up the UFC. Having spent 80+ years honing their Jiu-Jitsu in freestyle fights. the mid-90s saw the Gracies take their skills to an international stage.

Rickson Gracie himself is something of an enigma. He claims to have over 400 fights, with only 1 loss that only happened because he did not understand the rules of sport sambo. Almost all of these fights are unrecorded and unverified by independent sources. Hélio Gracie, the now-deceased patriarch of the family, has said that Rickson counts amateur and even practise fights in his record - and that if Hélio did the same, he would have over a million fights. Even Rickson's professional MMA record of 11-0 has never been against any top-10 fighters. Having said that, in any of the fights I've seen him in he has always looked awesome. Of course, it is easy to look good if your opponent is bad, but any top player in grappling who has rolled with him (such as Paulo Filho) have said that Rickson's skills are godlike.

The film darts around various aspects of preparation for the Vale Tudo tournament, following Rickson from the gym to the mountain waterfalls, to the competition itself and into the dressing room. It is in the dressing room between fights that I think we see Rickson for who he truly is. In all parts of the film, he is presenting his persona to the camera as he wishes to be seen. Backstage, between fights, he is physically tired, emotionally drained, and his defences come down. The dressing room area is not often seen in tournament videos (with the exception of Spike TV's Ultimate Fighter, which I would say is virtually rehearsed) and it is intriguing to see the great man drop his charisma shield.

We also follow 2 other fighters as they prepare for the same tournament: Koichiro Kimura and Todd Hayes. It is here that the difference between the Gracies and other fighters is clearly illustrated. Kimura is a shoot-fighter and is new to the vale tudo scene. Likewise, Todd Hayes is only fighting to earn enough money to buy his own bobsleigh to help him get to the Olympics. Whilst Rickson Gracie is shown to be utterly dedicated to his art, many fighters went into vale tudo half-heartedly and without knowing what to expect: this lack of knowledge makes them vulnerable. Nowadays, everyone knows the value of cross-training in fighting and also learn BJJ and how to defend against it, but back then the Gracies used their mystique and unknown qualities to great effect.

If there is one criticism to be made of this film, it is that it darts around too much. It doesn't show enough training/sparring in the preparation scenes, and only highlights of the actual fights are shown. One gets the sense that this is one big commercial for the Gracie system of fighting rather than a real insight into Rickson himself. The end result is a glimpse at the inside of the Gracies' world, but no more than a glimpse.
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insight to a living legend
shanec1235421 March 2007
rickson has managed to do exactly what he set out to do and that is to portray himself as a fighting legend, he has won countless grappling tournaments in his career and he picked his nhb career perfectly helping to promote bjj across the world just as Bruce lee did with kung fu all them years ago. rickson has done just as much for the gracie name as royce did, but by taking far less risks. is rickson the best fighter on the planet? of course he isn't but he never lost so hell always have that mystique just as Bruce lee has.

The japan open 2 that rickson fights in isn't the toughest tourny in the world but it was still no rules unlike mma is today. i think this film gives a good insight into the mind of a master of a martial art who is willing to put his families reputation on the line . i enjoyed seeing rickson personality's rather then the fighting and i believe that is what most fans of mma will want to see, a little of rickson personality sorry for any bad grammar, i left school early
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An action-packed documentary
oneworld-329 October 2000
Although it was a little bit bloody for me, the documentary was interesting, well done, and action-packed. I've heard a lot about these no-holds-barred events but have stayed away from them. This film was a gentle introduction to this crazy world of fighters.
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the fight with Funaki
McMike113 March 2007
I just finished watching the fight with Funaki, who was the better fighter among the fighters Rickson fought. Funaki's performance was very disappointing. While Rickson was getting up from the mat, Funaki did not take the opportunity to get on top of Rickson. Instead, Funaki was focusing on trying to kick Rickson's leg. Why?! Funaki has made repeated attempts to kick Rickson's leg to no avail, and got himself into this mechanical repetitive habitual motions that he just couldn't get himself out of. Seconds later, after Rickson got up from the mat, Funaki stumbled forward onto the mat like an old man, virtually screaming: MOUNT ME! So Rickson obliged, and choked Funaki out. I have yet to see a worthy opponent that Rickson defeated. 400 wins in this case means very little.
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More propaganda from the biggest coward in NHB.
Mr Pogo21 August 2001
This crap Rickson shovels out in this movie is laughable, all that aura and spirit BS. If you don't know Rickson, he is a washed up..wait, never was fighter who talks about how great he is, then ducks all the top fighters who challenge him. He only fights pro wrestlers with no fighting expirience, or just fighters more washed up then him. This movie is only for Brazilian JJ students who still think the Gracies are undefeated...anyone else better steer clear.
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