Jump to content
TSM Forums
Sign in to follow this  
Guest TSMAdmin

Movie Review: HBO's "The Smashing Machine"

Recommended Posts

Guest TSMAdmin

This is a review of HBO's 'The Smashing Machine', which premiered on, you guessed it, HBO on Sunday night.


(Editor's Note: This is a documentary on the life of MMA performers and it begins with the trials and tribulations of Mark Kerr)


The movie opens with Kerr doing a voice-over on black and white footage of him kicking ass. This was a really amazing opening. Very powerful, and the movie is off to a great start.


They show Kerr in a hospital back in Ohio after fighting a match in Pride. He's sitting a waiting room trying to defend the sport of MMA to a woman in there and basically try to explain he does it, but simply can't.


They show Eddie Goldman from Eyada sports talking about Pride and MMA in general. He explains the concept of MMA to viewers at home who are ignorant to this sort of thing, and states that Kerr entered this for the money, simply because he was a great wrestler and there isn't many career options for great wrestlers in life after wrestling.


They interview his brother, his father, and I'm assuming his sister. His brother said they used to like to fight as kids. Matt's parents never wanted him doing this sort of thing, and his father used the old cockfighting analogy to explain how he feels about it.


Kerr said he was scared the first time he stepped into the ring to do this. His brother said that he didn't want him to do it. Kerr said when he stepped into the ring for the first time for a Vale Tudo event down in Brazil, he couldn't believe he was actually going to do this, until the bell rang, and instinct took over. It shows him absolutely slaughter Paul Varelans in one of the worst beatings I've ever seen in MMA. Varelans bleeds buckets.


They show Kerr debut in UFC and clips of his fights there. Goldman talks about how UFC was really popular until the cable ban came into effect. Kerr jumped to Pride in October 1997 (when it opened) for more money (actually what happened was that Kerr was still under contract to UFC and got out of it by saying to the courts that he didn't want to be a part of a 'cockfight', and didn't see how his contract should be honoured to do something so brutal, and then when he got out of it he quickly jumped to Pride). Goldman talks about Kerr's rise in stardom over there.


August 1999 in Pheonix: The introduce Dawn Staples, Kerr's girlfriend. They talk about how much they love each other and how Kerr wasn't fighting when they started dating. She liked MMA because she liked the money, and Kerr never lost, so she wasn't ever afraid the he would get hurt, until he actually did lose and got hurt.


Kerr says he got his drugs from a pharmecutical company in New Mexico which would prescribe him whatever he wanted. He talks about a lot of different drugs he could get, in detail. It shows Kerr injecting himself in the arm with painkillers while talking about how he has such a high treshold of pain. By showing him injecting himself while laying his voice over that is a nice way of showing the audience that he doesn't.


They show him negotiating a contract in Japan with Pride. The show now introduces Mark Coleman. Coleman talks about the streak of losses and bad luck he had towards the end of his UFC run and the beginning of his stay with Pride.


They show a photo shoot with a variety of fighters. They introduce Kerr's upcoming opponent, Igor Vovchanchyn. Kerr tells the camera he's never lost a fight. They show him and Igor being friendly with each other, and then they show all of the fighters at a rules meeting (Ken Shamrock is specifically caught by the camera).


Coleman talks about how he thinks there should be no spouses at any of the fights (must've been something he learned later on because I specifically remember his wife, when she was still his girlfriend, being at his early UFC fights). Coleman and Kerr are watching a video of the fighters and talking about strategy. Dawn is with Kerr, and looks really agitated, and keeps trying to get Kerr's attention by sitting next to him, fidgeting, and walking in front of the TV.


They jump to Kerr fighting Igor. Igor wins with a series of big knees to the top of Kerr's head while he's down, knocking him out. Kerr has lost his first fight. Kerr comes to and looks really pissed. He argues with the ref and then heads to the back and finds Sakikabara (boss of DSE and Pride matchmaker). He tells Sakikibara that the referee made a bad call, and Kerr claims he was about to call foul on Igor for kneeing him in the head while he was down, but the ref stopped the fight before he could.


Kerr goes and sits alone, and starts to cry. They show Igor. Naturally, he looks pretty happy with the win. Dawn Staples says that she knew Mark would lose because he barely trained for this fight, and they were both out drinking late night a couple of weeks beforehand.


Mark Coleman talks about how getting tired in the ring is the worst feeling in the world. He says that to him, Kerr is still the champ, and convinces himself that Kerr could basically have taken Igor.


Kerr talks about what it's like to fight. He says the highs of it are orgasmic. They show Kerr later on talking to Igor, and forgiving him for it. He even argues that Igor was justified in doing it, because Pride had just changed the rules about it just before this event. They both chum around and take pictures and all that.


Kerr tries to get pain medication, using the word narcotics specifically, from a Japanese doctor but they don't have that stuff. Kerr is back home now and he makes a call to get some painkillers. They get into Kerr's addiction, as Kerr talks about how he's worried Dawn will leave him. He's worried about becoming an addict, and what it's like dealing with the fact that you've become one.


They show Mark Coleman at home with his wife and kids. Coleman said he met his wife when he worked as a bouncer at a nightclub, and he let her in without ID when she lied about her age, because he wanted to get to know her. He also lied about his age, claiming he was younger than he

actually was. She didn't find out until his first UFC when his actual age was shown on screen. Coleman's wife said she didn't mind MMA, because Coleman never lost (sounds familiar), but became scared when Coleman lost to Maurice Smith (also sounds familiar). Coleman talks about trying not to get hurt in the ring, and coming home to his family.


They interview a guy named Darin Farrell, who was an old friend of Kerr's that had wrestled with him in college. Kerr invited him to come over and try out to get into MMA, telling him that he wouldn't lose often, but when he did lose, he would get totally crushed by his opponent. Farrell said at that point he came back and decided to become the best damn phone salesman he could be. He says it's become harder and harder to get ahold of Mark until he gets word that Mark OD'd.


October 1999: Kerr is admitted to the hospital after going loopy and taking all the drugs he could find. He simply might die in there. His friends and family are visiting and Dawn is very scared. They try to intervene on Mark and he cries.


When Kerr gets home he bags up all of his drugs and takes them to a dumpster and tosses them out. He withdraws from his upcoming fight and checks into a 28 day rehab.


They show Coleman in Japan for the next Pride event. He talks about getting older and losing his intsincts for fighting, but that he kept doing it for the money. Coleman is getting ready to fight Ricardo Morais, who is gigantic, but Coleman beats him.


December 1999: Kerr is in the Sierra Tucson Rehabilitation Centre. Dawn doesn't think Kerr loves her anymore. Dawn talks about being an alchoholic and how she used to go to AA meetings. She says she used to go out for lunch and drink all afternoon and all through the night. She promises Kerr that she'll never use in front of him, but she does anyways. Kerr's sponsors want him away from Dawn and he wants out of what he calls a bad relationship. They break up.


We're now at the 2000 Pride Grand Prix. Kerr decides to come back for it to fight Enson Inoue in the first round. Coleman is entered into the tournament too, and they realize that they might have to fight each other before it's over.


Kerr goes to Los Angeles to train with Bas Rutten. Bas says that Kerr is unbeatable if he trains properly. He says Pride taking away the ability to do a lot of strikes on the ground hurts Kerr because that is what he is best at. Kerr is training with Bas, and everything is going really well.


January 2000: Coleman and Kerr are back in Japan for the Grand Prix. Kerr beats Inoue and Coleman wins his fight. Coleman and Kerry may end up fighting each other, and they'll do it because they both need the purse money.


Dawn Staples shows up where Kerr is training. She's had a lot to drink and is causing Kerr a lot of stress. Bas says Kerr has to end up picking either her or his career, and he ends up leaving training with Dawn.


They show Coleman training hard with Kevin Randleman. Coleman says he is mentally preparing for Kerr because they may fight in the finals. They show Coleman training really hard while Kerr is at home lounging by the pool. Kerr is drinking again, and he justifies it by saying that at least he isn't doing painkillers. He fights with Dawn a lot and at one point she even tries to commit suicide.


Kerr and Coleman are back in Japan and Coleman is asked by the press if he's willing to fight Kerr. He says he is. Kazuyuki Fujita is shown, and they go to Kerr's fight with him. Fujita defeats Kerr, and Coleman tries to console him in the back. Kerr, with a realization on his face which reads that it could easily be him in Coleman's shoes, tells Coleman that the tournament is his for the taking. They show Coleman defeat Igor Vovchanchyn, the guy who first defeated Kerr, to win the Pride Grand Prix.


On May 11, 2000 Kerr and Dawn Staples ended up getting married in Las Vegas, and the live in Arizona. Kerr hasn't fought since July 29, 2001, although he has been working for wrestling promotion Zero-One off-and-on. Actually, it's more like off-and-off because Kerr ended up being a

complete flop as a wrestler.



This, simply put, is an excellent movie. It's an excellent movie about painkillers and substance abuse in MMA that can easily cross-over and be about abuse in the pro wrestling industy too. It's an excellent movie about how far fighers are willing to go to win, how much it means to them and how horrible losing is. It's an excellent movie about two people getting swallowed and destroyed by both their demons and themselves. It's one of the best documentary films I've ever seen, anywhere. I really recommend catching a replay of this when you can (I'm sure HBO will replay it OVER and OVER and OVER again) or picking up a tape somewhere.


If you enjoyed this review, you can find literally dozens like it by picking up a subscription my newsletter, the Touch Of Evil. Each week I do profiles on pro wrestlers and mixed martial artists featuring tons of tape reviews. I do very detailed biographies on these people. You'll also find tons and tons of retro tape reviews, opinion columns, reviews of current WWE TV, NWA-TNA TV, recent Puro events, lucha TV, some of the most knowledgeable UFC and Pride work in newsletter form, and tons more. To get a subscription going, check out TouchOfEvil.4t.com for our pricing.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this