Plot: After her sister is killed, Windsor (Susie Celek) is desperate for answers and ventures to her sister’s old haunts, hoping to run into her friends and perhaps learn more about her death. But she is treated like an outsider and no one will open up to her, until she finds her sister’s friends and learns that to be accepted in this crowd, you need to fight. This leads to Windsor seeking help from Jabs (Miesha Tate), a respected fighter who agrees to train her out of respect for her sister, though she also has a slightly shady reputation. Soon Windsor is learning some basic fight skills and finding out more about her sister’s death, which she learns happened when a fight went too far. Of course, Windsor wants payback on those responsible, but can she handle the fierce fighters of this harsh neighborhood?
Entertainment Value: I was drawn to Fight Valley by the presence of several real life mixed martial artists, including former world champions Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, and Cris Cyborg. I was curious how well these warriors would transition to cinema and of course, hoped for some brutal, well staged fight scenes. While the narrative does center on a fight circuit, Fight Valley is more of a drama with some action sequences sprinkled in. In other words, don’t expect wall to wall fights in this one, but there are several scraps on showcase. The dramatic elements are passable, but despite the legit bad ass status of the real life fighters, the serious vibe is undermined by some cringe dialogue and not so believable elements. This leads to some unintentional humor at times, which is either good or bad news, depending on your preferences. The cast isn’t terrible, but comes off as stilted and sometimes wooden, which again impacts the attempts at emotional beats or street cred. Tate seems odd here, as she is so charismatic in real life, but comes off as awkward and deadpan in this role. In the end, I think Fight Valley is too serious and lacks the dramatic chops, cast and script wise to make that work, so it ends up as either bland or campy. But if you can appreciate a group of beautiful, tough woman throwing down, perhaps this is worth a look.
A couple of brief topless scenes, but no other sleaze is present. A little blood comes in during the fight scenes, but it is minor and amounts to various abrasions or damage from the strikes. The action is passable here, but the movie focuses on narrative over fights, which is an odd choice. The movie works when it leans on the fights or at least the atmosphere around them, but the more dramatic threads or character development attempts fall flat. When there are fight scenes, they work well enough, but don’t have the kind of impact and presence I expected, given that so many real life fighters were involved. The dialogue is fun, but in unintended ways, thanks to some ineffective lines and a mostly wooden cast. The tough girl talk is kind of effective at times, but overall the real value here is camp related. No real craziness in this one, it sticks with drama themes and a little action here and there. More wild moments would have helped, given the pace and rather bland dramatic elements.
Overall Insanity: 0/10