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Violence is made beautiful in 'Fight Church' | SIFF Review

Pastors Preston Hocker and Nahshon Nicks duke it out in the documentary
Pastors Preston Hocker and Nahshon Nicks duke it out in the documentary 'Fight Church.'
— image credit: Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel

Fight Church: Playing May 18, 4 p.m. at Lincoln Square Cinemas. 83 minutes.

Brutality and faith collide in Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel's documentary about Christian mixed martial arts enthusiasts, playing in the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival.

Partially presented against the backdrop of the MMA ban in New York state, the narrative follows several "fight pastors" and Christian fighters as they deal with the juxtaposition of loving thy neighbor and the love of violent sport. Champions such as Paul Burress argue that MMA allows the word of Christ to reach "tough guys." Critics such as Father John P. Duffell of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament and former New York State Assemblyman Robert Reilly also appear to share their opposition to blood sport in New York state.

While the filmmakers have stated they set out to present the subject matter in an entirely objective tone, the narrative instead seems to vacillate its sympathies from the fighters to their critics and back again.

The cinematography is beautifully rendered, and at its strongest when the cameras are drinking in cage fights blow by blow.


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