Helming this compelling documentary following one of New Zealand's sporting superstars, Kiwi director Peter Brook Bell charts how Mark Hunt overcame a challenging childhood to rise to global success – despite his best efforts to throw it all away.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
Mark Hunt: The Fight of His Life is a warts and all documentary following one of New Zealand's most successful sportspeople.
Mark Hunt remains a global superstar in both kickboxing and mixed martial arts, helping popularise the now phenomenally successful combat sport. Yet, as the documentary makes clear, Hunt has remained a rank outsider for the majority of his sporting career. This is highlighted in the film as Hunt singlehandedly takes on his employer UFC, persuading them to take a harder line with drug cheats.
Charting an almost Rocky-like trajectory, director Peter Brook Bell highlights Hunt’s career as it twists and turns in all directions. Focally, Hunt overcoming a horrendous childhood dealing with an abusive father, jail time and an adolescence spent on society's margins. No-one takes him seriously, bringing him in as a last-minute stand-in for kickboxing fights.
Despite this unpromising beginning, he almost immediately rises to global stardom. But with his increasing success also comes self-sabotage, challenging his own ascent at every step. By the time he joined the fledging MMA circuit, he was broke and seemingly washed up as a fighter.
Hunt is a compelling figure, showing just enough vulnerability to subvert the brutality of his victories. But these victories in the ring count for little until Hunt can overcome his demons.
His is a classic underdog story, cementing there was something remarkable about him from the outset. It's a sharp-eyed depiction of a figure who shouldn't have succeeded, but poignantly did so, because everybody wrote him off. — Brannavan Gnanalingam