Undefeated has even more small-town charm, heart and grit than Friday Night Lights. It is the story of one of the worst teams in the city possibly even the state overcoming insurmountable odds. It is Samson and Goliath-esque in scope. It bubbles with tension, drama, gut-wrenching storylines and deftly raises large, looming questions about the state of the poor and working class in America, the cycle of poverty and the failures of our education system.
Undefeated will never have a blockbuster weekend and if this film ever grosses more than one million dollars that would be nothing shy of a miracle. Miraculous because unlike Friday Night Lights, Undefeated is not a drama, it’s a documentary. An Oscar award-winning documentary but still a documentary, which too often are ignored.
At its core, Undefeated is a tale about facing adversity head-on, battling your demons and persevering but it is also the story of a generation of black men who have no fathers, are raised by their grandparents, living just above the poverty line and have very few prospects in life. It is a film that shows how much one man can accomplish and possibly even change the course of these young boys lives because he cares and believes in them.
The traditional concerns about the narrator and point of view are still there. After all, this story about poor, troubled black kids is told through the lens of their white coach and the white directors of this film. We are decades away from race not being an issue in America but what becomes clear in the film is that the love and dedication of their coach is genuine and transcends race and the filmmakers try their best to paint a brutal and very real picture of their subjects in the film.
By giving some backstory and creating context the audience better understands the struggles our heroines have already overcome and race takes a backseat to the yearning that every human being feels. No matter our color or our socio-economic status, each and every one of us wants to be seen for who we are, successful in achieving our goals and make meaningful connections with other people.
Undefeated will likely be made into a real Hollywood film eventually, one with big names attached and a budget to match and this watered down, blockbuster Hollywood version will undoubtedly make more money in one day than this documentary will gross in its lifetime, but do yourself a favor, see the original – no remake could ever hope to capture the raw emotion and intensity of it.
Directed By: TJ Martin and Bill Lindsay
Starring: Bill Courtney, OC Brown, Montrail ‘Money’ Brown and Chavis Daniels
Running Time: 113 minutes