Jens Pulver: Driven and The Hammer
If you’re one of the few MMA fans who didn’t enjoy the movie Warrior starring Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, and Nick Nolte don’t fret. It seems like countless filmmakers are attempting to cash in on the world’s fastest growing sport as numerous movies are either in the works or awaiting their release (Here Comes the Boom starring Kevin James and Salma Hayek is set for release this summer, and the documentary Once I Was a Champion about Evan Tanner is still circulating film festival circuits). The Cage Junkies have already reviewed Anderson Silva’s documentary Like Water, but for the movie-hungry fan it’s never enough! Luckily two more MMA films are now available on Netflix’s online streaming service: The Hammer and Jens Pulver: Driven.
In Driven, cameras follow the UFC’s first ever Lightweight Champion as he prepares for his fight in the now defunct WEC against Javier Vazquez. Director Gregory Bayne captured footage of Pulver that gives greater insight into the man behind the gloves. All the traditional documentary shots are included: Pulver hitting the bags, speaking into the camera, spending time with his family; but it’s the artistry in the way that Bayne blends Pulver’s words and actions that add emotion into the story. Audiences can feel the wide range of motions that course throughout the film from Pulver’s candor when speaking about his abusive father to his sense of pride when playing with his own son, Karson. The raw honesty that Pulver exudes is expertly caught on film by Bayne, and the movie feels more like a one-on-one conversation with ‘Lil Evil’ than a documentary.
The Hammer takes a different approach in its presentation. Based on the life and struggles of retired UFC Light Heavyweight Matt Hamill, the film employs actors in retelling the hardships the fighter faced being born deaf in a small town. Much of the film centers around Hamill’s college wrestling career, but key moments of his early life are also featured. Inclusion of a love interest and the usual story arcs makes this a film that your girlfriend or wife would enjoy watching as well. All-star performances are given by the key players in the film, including Russell Harvard from There Will Be Blood as Hamill and a cameo from everyone’s favorite ace!
Each film takes a different approach to telling the fighters’ stories. One attempts to let you behind the cage that separates fighters from fans, and the other leads you through the series of events that helped shape the fighter. If you’re in the mood for an extended look into the life of one of the most inspiring people in MMA, Driven is the film for you. If you’re in the mood for something that non-MMA fans can watch with you, The Hammer is the film of choice. Make no mistake, both are worth your time to watch, and if you weren’t already a fan of ‘Lil Evil’ or ‘The Hammer’, you will be afterwards.