Thursday, January 28, 2021

Haymaker Review: A Stylish World-Trotting Film

Zoë Bell	...	Rosie D.B. Sweeney	D.B. Sweeney	...	Mack Veronica Falcón	Veronica Falcón	...	Marisol Udo Kier	Udo Kier	...	David John Ventimiglia	John Ventimiglia	...	Javier Nomi Ruiz	Nomi Ruiz	...	Nomi Kathryn Kates	Kathryn Kates	...	Mama Adele René	Adele René	...	Delilah Deborah Unger	Deborah Unger	...	Nurse June Nick Sasso	Nick Sasso	...	Nick David M Sandoval Jr.	David M Sandoval Jr.	...	Fighter Michael Straka	Michael Straka	...	Broadcaster George Zouvelos	George Zouvelos	...	John bartender Ty Hickson	Ty Hickson	...	Logan Olan Montgomery	Olan Montgomery	...	Bluto

Release date: January 29, 2021
Running time: 83 minutes
Nomi Ruiz, Nick Sasso, John Ventimiglia, Veronica Falcón, Udo Kier, Zoë Bell, D.B. Sweeney
Written and Directed By: Nick Sasso

Haymaker follows a retired Muay Thai fighter (Sasso) working as a bouncer, who rescues an alluring transgender performer (Ruiz) from a nefarious thug, eventually becoming her bodyguard, protector, and confidant. The relationship leads Sasso's character to make an unexpected return to fighting, risking not only his relationship, but his life. Haymaker tells a story about human dignity and love.

Directed by  Nick Sasso	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Nick Sasso   Produced by  Brett Gursky	...	associate producer Ethan Rosenberg	...	associate producer Nomi Ruiz	...	producer Issa-Jean Sarr	...	associate producer / line producer Nick Sasso	...	producer Andrew van den Houten	...	producer
Although Haymaker is definitely an indie and labor of love by Nick Sasso, the film has much better production values than I expected.  The film has a much larger size and feel than I would expect from a new film and first time director.  Part of this feel comes from several scenes with large crowds, like a crowded concert scene, a nightclub scene, and a fight, which featured a large venue full of people.  Securing these venues and filling them up seem to be the work of both Sasso and Nomi Ruiz working contacts to make this film come true.  And Haymaker also has a larger size due to it taking place all over the world.  Again, this is a testament to both Sasso and Ruiz leaning on friends and industry individuals to set the film in exotic locations, a welcome retreat to the stir crazy nature of our current life.   

And the film has a bold style with a bright, loud at times color palette that gives the movie an energetic feeling.  I loved seeing the bold colors pop off the screen during Nomi's performance, and the travels to locales ensure plenty of beautiful scenery is on display.  And the film also experiments with long stretches of little to no dialogue, which makes for an interesting film.  And this is also generally a good thing as the dialogue itself can be hit or miss, making the experimental times all the more compelling.  And although Sasso is an interesting, matter of fact character as the main bodyguard / love interest, Nomi Ruiz is a larger than life addition to this film that helps to give it the bigger than its budget feel.  Her character has a diva mentality and many of the scenes with large crowds are created around her.  Additionally, because of her musical talents, Haymaker has an upbeat, impressive soundtrack.  Ruiz lent her musical stylings to the film and it pays off with a better than expected soundtrack for this movie.  

And although Haymaker has a great style and some bold choices, the film doesn't land all its punches.  As previously mentioned, the dialogue can be hit or miss, with some lines delivered in an unbelievable manner.  And the film itself often times feels like there is no purpose to what is going on, despite it having a great style.  There isn't a lot of drive in the film until the final section, which can lead it to feel like a beautiful, but idle adventure.  And although there are two main plots in the film, they aren't perfectly tied together.  The film does seem like it was inspired by Sasso's love of Muy Thai, but then had additional characters and story arcs bolted on to accommodate the end game.  But that being said, this is still a great first effort by a talented filmmaker, and I look forward to seeing Sasso's style and flair used to tell other stories.

Haymaker punches above its weight with its bold style, great music, larger than its indie budget feeling, thanks to the talents and efforts of Sasso and Ruiz. 

Rent it.

MMA Muy Thai Singing World Travel Greece Octagon Drama Love
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Haymaker is available in theaters, digitally, and on demand January 29, 2021.

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