The Smashing Machine

USA 2002
Director: John Hyams
Cast: Mark Kerr, Mark Coleman, Dawn Staples, Bas Rutten

93 Min. | OV


In the first fight scene of John Hyams’ documentary, the professional mixed martial arts fighter Mark Kerr appears like an unstoppable force of nature. Quite often, he just storms towards his opponent, wrestles him to the ground and then then pummels him incessantly with his fists until he capitulates. In these moments Kerr actually is »the smashing machine«, a human machine who dishes out blows and accepts no opposition. The fighters exude a rough, fascinating and also destructive power. Hyams prettifies nothing in his images, often bringing the camera very close to the combatants. It is as if one feels the blows oneself. Most of all one feels the devastation that they leave behind, for winner and loser alike. But Hyams’ film is not sensationalist. On the contrary, he portrays the individual fights as part of a regular job. Mark Kerr and the others only went into the ring to earn money for themselves and their families. This is how this breathtakingly forthright and honest look into the world of mixed martial arts allows for an unvarnished view into the mechanisms of all working environments.