Smashing Time [1967]

A supercharged bloodfest for mixed martial arts fight fans, but of more dubious merit as a documentary, The Smashing Machine is a blurry, noncommittal portrait of would-be American warrior Mark Kerr, a soft-spoken drug addict who performs astonishing acts of violence for big money. A former wrestler turned extreme fighter, Kerr proves a contradictory subject--a boyish, quietly restless man who resorts to no-hold-barred savagery in the ring--in this shameless, often nauseating HBO project. Over several months, director John Hyams (NYPD Blue) captures Kerr's seemingly unstoppable parade of victory in the U.S. and Japan. He also reflects the decay in Kerr's private life and highlights a dramatic turn in his fortunes after Kerr loses an important MMA match to a Russian brawler. Along the way, we meet Kerr's trainer, Mark Coleman, whose own destiny takes on ironic, unexpected importance in the end. --Tom Keogh

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