rakontur // 2015
Director: Billy Corben
West Perrine, Florida is an impoverished pocket of Southwest Miami-Dade County, where over 73 percent of its residents are African American, and more than a third of them are unemployed. Violent crimes occur on a daily basis in this neighborhood of less than two square miles, where much of its adult male population winds up dead or in prison before their 30th birthday.
But among the blight, there is hope.
Standing at 6’3, weighing 270lbs and with a mohawk crest crowning his head, Dhafir “Dada 5000” Harris is a statuesque and imposing figure- a fist waving warrior who gained notoriety through bare knuckled battles as part of the crew of Mixed Martial Arts sensation Kimbo Slice, a childhood friend.
When Kimbo’s manager buried video of Dada’s spectacular backyard fight debut, for fear of Dada overshadowing his rising superstar Dada trades his time in the ring to start organizing brutal amateur bouts and becoming a backyard brawl impresario.
Using his mothers yard as a venue, he builds a ring and quickly cements himself as the Don King of illegal fights. No doctors, no ambulance. Just two men in a 12’ x 12’ ring battling in a savage bare-knuckle fight to the finish, all in search of a little glory but more importantly of some cash to feed their families as they literally try to fight their way out of poverty and out of the hood.
The Guardian: "Dawg Fight is a grimy, pummeling examination of backyard bare-knuckle fighting culture in the rougher depths of Miami suburbia. If that seems an unremittingly grim topic, Corben's film has more than miserablism on its mind. As his aggressively probing camera uncovers the rules and practical politics of the sport, the fighting emerges with an unexpected degree of honour: it functions as individual livelihood and public entertainment are integrated into a coarse, lively social fabric."
Maxim: "Dawg Fight…largely succeeds as a memorably unflinching document of an underground pastime rarely seen on film."
Miami New Times: “Dawg Fight is a raw look at a side of South Florida that's rarely seen. There are no cruise ships in Perrine, no tony art deco architecture, just an impoverished community trying to eke out survival….Perrine is the home of the American grind, not the American dream -- but the purpose of the grind is the dream.”
MMA Owl: "It's all at once spellbinding, visceral and provocative, and it is simply impossible to not be affected by it."
Rolling Stone: "Less about the rise to the top as it is the permanent social stasis that keeps people on the bottom."
Miami Herald: "…The film puts you inside the ring with them, conveying the fury and violence and athleticism of their sport. Corben's cameras get in so close, capturing so much of the brutal action in such detail….You come to understand the courage and confidence it takes to do what they do. The matches in Dawg Fight might make you wince and groan, but what the movie makes you remember the most are the men who are willing to risk a beating…and, in the process, discover their lives have real meaning after all.”
Esquire: "The fight scenes are brutal and captivating."
Miami New Times: "Dawg Fight is an action-packed romp tinged with tragedy and teeming with compelling characters."
Orlando Weekly: "One of the most insane films to come out of the Sunshine State."