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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A facinating look into the life of a gladiator....

10/10
Author: John Ingle (nukuchan@bellsouth.net) from Asheville NC
12 January 2003



As a big fan of Pro Wrestling, Mixed Martial Arts and No holds Barred fighting I must say that out of all of the truly great behind the scenes documentaries this may very well be the single most well paced and perfectly executed one of them all. Centering around the road to the Pride fighting championship tournament in 2000 it leaves few stones unturned in its portrayal and career demise of a very promising fighter in Mark Kerr. The soft spoken and polite Kerr was quite a magnificent grappler in his day, but once the reality set in that as an amateur he would make little money to sustain his life he turned to MMA after his good friend Mark Coleman (who is also prominently featured in the film, though to a lesser extent) recommended it. The Trials and tribulations he endured that led to him ultimately quitting MMA is well documented, drawing you into a world of addiction, withdrawal and diluted desire. Its sad to see what Kerr gave up for his future wife, but perhaps it was never meant to be as his heart never truly seemed to be into it anyway. Along the way you meet several different MMA stars he would share his fame with, such as his trainer the damn near unstoppable MMA LEGEND Bas Rutten. On the flip side you see the redemption of Mark "the Hammer" Coleman as he fights to rebound from the humiliating UFC loss to Maurice Smith he endured 2 years earlier. Seeing these men in such a different light is a sparkling reminder of just how human they really are (such as Coleman obvious love for his children), and subsequently how prone to human error they are as well. Watching Kerr hit rock bottom due to his Pain Killer addiction is a sad sight, but after all the pro wrestling and combat sports health issues and deaths it has to be seen. Perhaps someone will finally wake up and clean up an industry that has long needed cleaning... perhaps not. No harm in hoping though. In closing I have to say this film is must see viewing for MMA/Wrestling fans and a perfect example of how to document an individual without compromising their dignity. Highly recommended.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Very interesting documentary

Author: gtbaddy from St. Louis, MO
25 June 2004

I rented the DVD of "Smashing Machine" because I remembered Howard Stern talking about how good it was on his radio show a few months back. Just to preface where my opinion is coming from, while I am interested in martial arts and have seen a few of the UFC specials on Pay-Per-View years ago, I am by no means an active fan who is current with these events or the fighters.

Before watching, I was a little worried that this movie might of been geared towards the fans, and since I had never even heard of Mark Kerr I thought it might be uninteresting. Glad to report I was wrong... I thought this movie was fantastic. It was partially a profile of Mark Kerr and partially showing the ins and outs of the Pride Fighting events. It was odd to see that these people that go in the ring and beat the life out of each other are just regular guys who go home to a family. I would recommend this movie to anyone that is interested by martial arts or fighting, I thought it was a great watch.

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Quite possibly the best MMA documentary ever made.

10/10
Author: Kevin Marshall from Troy, NY
12 January 2003

"The Smashing Machine", which follows mixed martial arts competitor Mark Kerr's career from late '99 until the Pride Grand Prix 2000 tournament in Japan, is a stunning and provocative look at a man whose fights with his own personal demons rival those he encounters in the ring (or in the octagon). Also featured in the documentary is Mark Coleman, who at the time was coming off a two-year slump in the sport.

I think what struck me the most was the dramatic aspect of it. Kerr, for one, surprised me with his willingness to bare his soul before the camera. The movie goes a long way to dispell many stereotypes that many people have of shootfighters, as both Kerr and Coleman come across as genuinely good people (and in Coleman's case a devout husband and father). John Hyams provides the audience with an extremely candid look at the life of Kerr, who deals with a drug abuse problem and a potentially dysfunctional relationship. For those who aren't fans of MMA, the access Kerr grants to Hyams will shock and move you. For those who are fans, the bouts that are shown (through clips) become even more pivotal and dramatic.

For fans of Mixed Martial Arts the documentary will forever change the way you'll look at Kerr and Coleman, while also adding an added dimension to the drama that occurs within the ring (or octagon). "The Smashing Machine" provides a moving glimpse into the lives of people whose weaknesses make them more identifiable to the audience than any other documentary subject or film character, despite their profession and physiques.

Highly recommended for fans and non-fans alike,, and especially for those who view MMA as barbaric and its fighters as testosterone-driven madmen.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A Brutal but Moving Inside Look into Ultimate Fighting

7/10
Author: Christopher Kienle from Manhattan, NYC
14 February 2003

Like many people who have commented on this movie, I too was a big fan of the UFC when it first came about. I eventually stopped paying attention to UFC after a few years because they started making so many rules, it went from being a human cockfight to a mundane wrestling match. Why I would want to watch two men beat one another within an inch of their lives is a question better answered by the psychologists. The only viable answer I can give you is the fascination of seeing so many different forms of martial arts square off against one another. (After all, seeing a 450 lb. Sumo wrestler get choked out on the mat by a 165 lb. Jujitsu master is quite a spectacle.)

But it's a lot more fun and glamorous to watch -- or at least so I thought. I was lucky enough to go to the opening of The Smashing Machine and did not find myself cheering on the blood and gore as I did when I used to rent UFC on pay-per-view. You see, when you watch the UFC, you don't get to know the people in the ring. You almost forget that these are real people, in many cases, just trying to put food on the table for their family. For as much as we see these people as insane and deserving of their punishment for voluntarily choosing such a career path, these are real people - just like you and I.

The Smashing Machine is a brilliant documentary that follows Mark Kerr and Mark Coleman on a multiyear quest from UFC in America to the spectactular Pride competition in Japan. You see the befores, the afters and the inbetweens. You get inside these peoples' heads and hearts and can feel the emotion that courses through them at every moment of their journey. It is not glamorous by any means.

This documentary is very powerful in its ability to tell the human story while still satisfying the audience who loves the brutality -- with clip after clip of knees crashing repeatedly into unprotected skulls and eye sockets and blood spilling out as though it were poured onto the mat from a bucket. The narrative is compelling. The sequences are dramatic and hard-hitting.

I had the privilege of meeting both Mark Kerr and Mark Coleman at the premiere of this documentary. I cannot say I still wasn't shaking my head and asking "why?" but for them this sort of thing is their badge of pride -- and in many cases, their only paycheck.

Check it out.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A Great Study on MMA!!!

10/10
Author: ElijahCSkuggs from Happy Land, who lives in a Gumdrop House on Lolly Pop Lane
30 September 2004

Mark Kerr is the main focus of this film, and it deals with his incredible rise from a wrestler, to one of the elite members of Mixed Martial Arts. Though Mark is at the top of his game, his need for pain relief grows to extremes, and other troubles soon arise. This documentary on "ultimate fighting," features many great Pride fighters like Igor Vovchanchyn, Vanderlei Silva, Mark Coleman and Renzo Gracie. Bas Rutten ultimately steals the show, though Mark is truly a specimen of massive power. The film manages to get in the very midst of the Pride tournament, and fans of Vale Tudo events would love to see such great shots and interviews of their favorite fighters. The film is very violent, though the athletes involved have the utmost technique and dedication for their martial art form. Truly a very unique type of person could be involved in these events, and the film captures that perfectly. Hopefully with this film, people will begin to appreciate the technique and sport, rather than just viewing it as fighting.

A 10 ****

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

John Hyams' delicate exploration of the reality behind ultimate fighting and the people involved with this gruesome sport.

Author: guidoerne
29 July 2004

The Reality of Ultimate Fighting

John Hyams' film 'The Smashing Machine,' comes across in the way few documentaries really do: Presenting the real-life struggles of ultimate fighter Mark Kerr in a captivating narrative. The film follows Kerr's career over the course of one year, from 1999 to 2000. It explains how he first was an amateur wrestler at the collegiate level, and was later drawn into ultimate fighting in an attempt to use his talent in the ring to earn some money. After his first public appearance, Kerr became a celebrity overnight, eventually finding his way to the Japan-based Pride Fighting Championship promotion. Here, the crowds were huge, and the prize money was impressive. Kerr quickly became one of the top competitors in the promotion, making him truly one of the best fighters on the globe. In the scene where Kerr is in a doctor's waiting room, discussing the sport with an older woman who sees the sport being unreasonable and brutal, he shows his confidence in his sport and does his best to defend it. Hyams however shows also the other side of Kerr's story which is filled with problems.

After years of sustaining extremely bad beatings in the ring, Kerr has become addicted to pain killers which led to serious health problems and difficulty with his home life. While it is easy to accept Kerr's defense given to the woman in the doctor's office, the film's unhesitating look into the sport suggests that the woman is right. The camera never shies away from the violence and gruesomeness of the sport, but also reveals the side we never get to see: That Mark Kerr and other fighters depicted in the film, are not inhuman, barbaric beasts whose main reason for existence is to harm their opponents. Instead, we see that they are normal guys who are just doing this to make a living. We may notice that Kerr is not a man who wants to hide anything. He never asks that the camera man be shut off. He is completely honest in his interviews and conversations. He does not even mind showing his pain killer injection and letting us see the scene in the hospital where he breaks out in tears, realizing that his life has to change. That is why Hyams did not choose a soundtrack that is loud, angry and fast, but instead we here music that provides an atmosphere against anger, really allowing the visuals to speak for themselves.

Hyams film has therefore turned into a successful documentary that tries to balance the views which are for and against ultimate fighting and the people involved. 'The Smashing Machine' is not only extreme violent, but also emotional, and at times heartbreaking. Yet it is definitely not a film for all viewers because of the intense brutality shown.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

I Wouldn't Want To Be On The Wrong End Of Those Mark Kerr Strikes!

8/10
Author: BunkhouseTito from Los Angeles, California
24 January 2005

This was an excellent documentary on a typical fighter and the trials and tribulations one must endure to not only compete, but to gain a certain level of success as well. In this case, Mark Kerr was the subject and we are showed quite a few of his ups and downs in his career, both personal and professional.

The Smashing Machine also brought the average joe into what is going on behind the scenes, the press conferences, the relationships with the other fighters, etc. We are shown that Mark Kerr and Mark Coleman are good friends, who train together and are also willing to step into the ring, octagon or whatever and fight it out with each other as well. At times, this actually seemed to drift away from Kerr and more onto Coleman, who started to become more interesting than Kerr later on in the movie.

We are also given a look at some intense training with Kerr and Bas Rutten. This was probably the best part of the documentary, as I was most entertained by the scenes with Kerr and Rutten.

Although I enjoyed The Smashing Machine immensely, I would have chosen someone other than Kerr to feature. Personally, I would like to see how someone like Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Ken Shamrock or any of the other bigger names in Mixed Martial Arts go about their daily business and training. I'm sure it would be just as enthralling, if not more. 8/10

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Very watchable of the rise and fall of a monster.

7/10
Author: dilbertsuperman from Baghdad
7 December 2005

This is a man who proves every man's worst enemy is himself.

This is a great behind the scenes look at the ugly side of what it takes to be a MMA warrior and stay one. Mark discovers that what brought him to the top is going to chew him up and spit him out unless he makes some serious changes in his life. Addictions to pain killers and too much partying used to give him an edge of not feeling pain. His relationship used to be the crutch that would hold him up till the next fight. Fame and pressure to stay at the top makes everything different and more demanding.

All of a sudden he is very alone at the top and realizes he's just not able to do it by himself, never realizing he's the one making that decision he can't do it so he obviously was fooling himself all along.

He has to decide between being tough and living rough to be the champion or caving in to the demands of his manipulative obsessive girlfriend and taking the easy way out to chumpville with the rest of us mortals.

It was awesome seeing the scenes with Bas Rutten reacting to what he saw happening with Mark. As Mark described it -it's weird when everyone else can see what you are doing wrong except you- and that's exactly the place where he was in this movie because he is in a co-dependent relationship with a negative controlling woman. Their relationship is based on his own loneliness, depression and emotional weakness and fueled by her jealousy and fear. The reason they were together is because both shared the same bad habits and loneliness and an attraction to the escape that the other one offered. Unfortunately, people that meet because they share bad habits, tend to only make it worse on both of them.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Everything a documentary should be.

Author: sr4nier
17 January 2003

A compelling and poignant piece on the life and times of ultimate fighter Mark Kerr. Every fan and non-fan of this great sport should watch this. Kerrs' rise and subsequent fall and eventual comeback was both exciting and sad.

The man himself is an enigma in the sense that outside the ring, well quite frankly, I don't think you could meet a nicer person. Inside the ring however, he at one point was literally the "baddest man on the planet".As dominant as anyone who ever competed. In his prime, complete power and destruction was what he brought to the events he competed in.

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An astonishing heavy weight champion of a film.

10/10
Author: morrison-dylan-fan from United Kingdom
13 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

About four years ago,I read a review in a pro-wrestling magazine called Power Slam,praising a film called The Smashing Machine.Sadly,I always kept pushing the film back,thinking "Ill pick it up one day",even though I am a big fan of the fantastic Mickey Rouke film The Wrestler (in interviews,the makers of The Wrestler,have said that this was one of the main inspirations for the film.)Thankfully,with my best friends birthday coming up very soon,I suddenly remembered this film,so I decided that as soon as the DVD arrived in the post,that I would sit down and watch the film.The moment the end credits started,my instant feeling was one of speechlessness.

The outline of the film:

The film looks at the highly-rated Mixed Martial Artist (MMA) Mark Kerr,who goes to the world biggest MMA company (Pride).When Pride announces that it wants to decides an undisputed champion,by holding a tournament.One of Kerrs friends (Mark Coleman)decides to come out of retirement (he badly lost in his last MMA fight a few years ago)to try and win the championship,and the $200,000 prize money.Whilst most of the fighters are focusing on battling their rivals and winning the cash prize.For Kerr,the toughest rival that he must beat are himself and his own demons,that are eating his life away.With his girlfriend having trouble dealing with her drinking problem,and Mark having a terrible addiction to dope,that he is shown shooting himself up,whilst also being addicted to painkillers,that leads to him being rushed to hospital,when he ods.

View on the film:

The first thought that hit me like a knock-out knee to the face,was the raw,open wound feeling of what Kerr had surprising given the documentary filmmakers permission to film.Which included some of the most distressing scenes that I have seen in any film.With the painfully agonising long take,of Kerr sliding a needle into his veins,to his friends rushing to be at the hospital,when Mark frighteningly almost reaches the bottom of the downward spiral.Impressively,Directors/camera men John Hymans and Steve Schleuter make sure to not show any of the people in the film as glowing heroes or boo! hiss! villains.Instead they are mostly shown as good,though very flawed people.With even Kerrs girlfriend not being corned into the clichés hanger-on role (also known as the Yoko role)but getting shown as a likable,but very confused girl.

For the MMA fights,the makers wisely decide not to fill the fights with rubbish "edgey" radio-rock and MTV style jump-cuts,instead they use some well-filmed views from the ringside,with a soft ambient soundtrack that even includes moments of silence!.Though a lot of the film is very dark,it does thankfully have an optimistic side,with the return of Mark Coleman,whose strong friendship for Kerr shines in the film,which makes his trophy raising moment,almost impossible to not smile to.

Final view on the film:

A stunningly made documentary,of an absorbing story,that is easily one of the best films made in the last ten years.

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