Rating: PG-13
Stars: Beau Casper Smart, Mark Ryan, Kate Miner, Shashawnee Hall, Gregory Fawcett, John Brickner
Writers: Brandi Ellis, Tye Lombardi, Brett R. Miller
Director: Bradford May
Distributor: Skinfly Entertainment
Release Date (theatrical): October 30, 2015

Barring the cell phones and the fact that mixed martial arts wasn’t big in the West yet, STREET could easily be mistaken for one of those ‘70s indie action flicks that turn up on El Rey Network. You know the kind – good-hearted, hard-working kid with a talent for fighting is caught between a hardscrabble but upright lifestyle and something that is more dangerous and less palatable but unavoidable.

In this instance, our protagonist is Remo Street, played by mixed martial artist Beau Casper Smart. Remo is the sole support for his little sister (Giovanna Cappetta) and his pain-pill-popping mom (Donna Rusch). An incident where Remo fends off a couple of thugs in a liquor store gets him an offer to work and train at a Los Angeles gym run by the righteous Coach Oz (Shashawnee Hall). Unfortunately, the goons are in the employ of Russian gangster Uri (Mark Ryan), who runs illegal MMA matches where heavy bets are placed. Uri insists that Remo fight for him

There’s also romance with Coach Oz’s quasi-foster daughter (Kate Miner), resentment from the coach’s quasi-foster son (John Brickner), and a variety of other subplots that leads to … well, you know.

Smart is an impressive athlete, with some noteworthy moves, including a great midair multi-somersault (even if he does have a distractingly bad haircut). Ryan is strong as the intimidating, pragmatic bad guy, Hall is full of solid conviction and Miner is lovely and likable.

However, the script’s reliance on coincidence and convention makes the storyline hard to buy. There are a lot of movies out there with characters trying to keep the two sides of their lives from intersecting, and STREET adds nothing new to that tradition. There are no flourishes of imagination or unforeseeable twists to draw us in. (A bit of homophobic humor doesn’t help.)

The action is realistic-looking and the moves are powerful, but even when Remo is facing opponents twice his size, it’s not presented in a way where we can stress out over the outcome. Remo, despite his rough background, is presented as such a paragon that it doesn’t seem possible for him to genuinely err in or out of the ring.

On the other hand, the indie spirit shines through here. Besides the good use of Los Angeles and Las Vegas locations and judicious use of space, there’s a clear attitude of, “Here’s what we’ve got, here’s what we can do with it” that will resonate with anybody involved in low-budget filmmaking. People nostalgic for this sort of fare will have fond memories stoked and, in a few years, it’s possible people may actually think STREET really is a product of the Seventies.

 

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