After “True Detective”, Stephen Dorff plays a champion of MMA in “Embattled”, intoxicated by success and its demons, in fight against his own son and in the grip of a tragic family destiny. We were able to ask him a few questions.
Embattled : a family in a cage
Discreetly released at the beginning of the summer on video, Embattled tells the story of Cash “Liquid” Boykins, MMA champion played by Stephen Dorff. Written by David McKenna and directed by Nick Sarkisov, this film is like the world he explores: brutal, imperfect, sometimes unkind, but it is also moving, surprising, and of a seductive density. In Embattled, Cash must fight to keep his crown, but he also fights against his demons, involving his loved ones already torn in an intimate and family drama with multiple springs.
Stephen Dorff: “I don’t look like Cash”
The main story of Embattled is that of Cash’s relationship with his eldest son Jett (Darren Mann). Cash lives with Jade (Karrueche Tran), his second wife after he separated from his first wife and mother of his boys Jett and Quinn (Colin McKenna), Susan. He is rich and famous, but Susan (Elizabeth Reaser) and her children live modestly, Jett having to ensure long days between high school, his martial arts training, and give time to Quinn, touched by Williams syndrome. Cash pushes his son to join him in the world of MMA, which will further upset the precarious balance and lead them to compete in the ring …
Stephen dorff : “I was won over by the script by David McKenna, who worked on films that I really like, like American History X and Blow. There weren’t really any good movies about MMA, when it became one of the most popular in the world. I didn’t know Nick, I had never heard of him, but I saw that he had an idea, taste, that his script was good. The preparation took place immediately after the shooting of True Detective, the challenge was to gain muscle but without losing weight. I gave it my all, and I thank the team because I had some really good coaches. “
Cash only lives in excess. It’s constantly about to explode, bubbling and aggressive. A true star, he is crossed by a thousand sufferings that he expresses however very little. Unlike in Warrior Where Rage in the belly, the humanity of the main character seems a priori non-existent. A character composition that the actor did not find easy.
SD : “I’m not violent at all in life, I don’t look like Cash. I’m interested in MMA, I’ve seen the big fights, including Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, and I’ve dabbled all over the place for composing the character. There’s some Floyd Mayweather for the business side, obviously Conor McGregor for the charisma and the showmanship, but I also watched and studied other fighters to do Cash. “
Embattled, a family and social struggle
An abusive spouse, who at least supports his family, Cash draws Jett into what appears to the young man as a selfish abandonment of one’s responsibilities, those of his father, but his too, a destructive headlong rush. There’s the fights, but there’s also the family drama and, facing Stephen Dorff, the rest of the cast succeeds in their score by applying to try to save what can be saved.
SD : “He’s a fictional character, and a pretty loathsome person! And it wasn’t necessarily easy or enjoyable for me to play him. But I think I succeeded. It was great working with him. this casting, and we tried to tell this story as well as possible. It was not easy every day to be Cash, especially with the young people. But I was thinking for example of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, and I was like that Cash was like that too, a guy we didn’t really want to hang out with, so I had to keep that mindset while keeping it at bay. “
Embattled almost wants to be exhaustive on the environment of MMA and on the trajectory of Cash “Liquid” Boykins, by developing on the one hand Susan’s relationship with a veteran of the army (Donald Faison) who lost the use of his legs, on the other hand showing Cash negotiating with the UFC organization for better consideration of fighters, with the idea of building a union. If everything is not properly developed on these aspects, the interpretations inspired by the cast and the tragic ambition ofEmbattled make this film a pleasant surprise.
Embattled is currently available on DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD.