17 user 5 critic

American Wrestler: The Wizard (2016)

PG-13 | | Drama, Sport | 16 May 2017 (USA)
1:40 | Trailer

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In 1980, a teenage boy escapes the unrest in Iran only to face more hostility in America, due to the hostage crisis. Determined to fit in, he joins the school's floundering wrestling team.


Alex Ranarivelo


Ali Afshar (story by), Brian Rudnick (story by) | 1 more credit »
10 wins. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
George Kosturos ... Ali Jahani
William Fichtner ... Coach Plyler
Ali Afshar ... Hafez Tabad
Lia Marie Johnson ... Kristi Larsen
Gabriel Basso ... Jimmy Petersen
Jon Voight ... Principal Skinner
Sasha Feldman ... Dan 'Toad' Webster
Chase Mowen Chase Mowen ... Mike Thornhill
Kevin G. Schmidt ... Rowan Knox
Nicholas Guilak ... Pasha
Shannon Collis ... Wendy
Karina Andrews Karina Andrews ... Miss Larsen
Tony Panterra Tony Panterra ... Mr. Jahani
Salome Azizi ... Mrs. Jahani
John Asadi ... Truck Driver


In this inspiring tale based on true events, 17-year-old Ali Jahani is a newcomer to a small California town, where he stands out as different in an unwelcoming community. Living with his embittered uncle, the boy faces a mountain of adversity everywhere he turns. Rejected by everyone but determined to fit in, he joins the school's floundering wrestling team. With a chance to change how others see him, Ali must step up and learn to be a hero. Written by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, some disturbing images, language and thematic material | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Official site




English | Persian | French | Spanish

Release Date:

16 May 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wizard See more »

Filming Locations:

Petaluma, California, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$0, 3 May 2017, Limited Release
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Filmed in part at Casa Grande High School. As the film portrayed the school in a negative light, the principal did not allow the name to be used. See more »


Whereas Sectionals, Districts or Regionals leading up to State Tournaments may be held in high school gyms, State Tournaments are large scale events held in coliseums, with multiple mats running simultaneously - not just one. Just about every seat would be filled, especially those nearest the action. You would not have a championship final where, looking past the boys on the mat, you'd see row upon row of empty seats. See more »


Rowan Knox: Do you know who I am?
Ali: Yeah, I know who you are.
Rowan Knox: I'm suckin' down to 126. I mean, you can imagine what I'm putting my body through to cut that weight; so, out of respect for the process, if you're afraid to fight me, tell me now.
Ali: I'm not afraid of you.
Rowan Knox: You have to say that. I get it. I have a full ride to Stanford, if I want.
Ali: Lucky you.
Rowan Knox: I would say it's a bit more than luck. You see, when I want something, I don't stop until I get it.
Ali: Good work ethic.
Rowan Knox: You know what I really want?
See more »


Followed by American Fighter See more »


Written by Jamie Christopherson and Shani Rigsbee
Performed by Andy Madadian and Shani Rigsbee
See more »

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User Reviews

You've seen this before, but still good
3 January 2018 | by mancinibrownSee all my reviews

American Wrestler is yet another underdog sports movie, based on a true story. Ali Jahani escapes from Iran during the Iranian revolution and comes to a hostile USA, as racism against Iranians is rising due to the hostage crisis. Fitting in at a new school is difficult, he tries out for a team to fit in, sticks at wrestling and starts winning, gaining respect and being accepted.

So, what makes this one worth watching? The lead performance by George Kosturos is extremely strong, portraying the different emotions Ali is feeling as he's making his way through. Jon Voight and William Fichtner also bring their characters to life and mostly well rounded.

The script is also a strength for the most part. While there are some cringeworthy scenes (the school bully is overdone), in general the script keeps moving and is engaging.

As noted, however, there are some down sides in some of the side characters, and in how believable some of the events are. The movie is clearly based on a true story, not a true story in itself.

It's not a movie that has to be witnessed, but it shouldn't be ignored either.

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