Haymaker (2021)

Posted in Reviews by - January 25, 2021
Haymaker (2021)

Globe-trotting indie drama about an unlikely romance between a transgender pop star (real-life pop star Nomi Ruiz) and her bodyguard, a former Muay Thai fighter (played by the film’s writer, director, co-producer and editor, Nick Sasso). As they tour the world, they mix work and pleasure until a fear of compromise forms a rift in their relationship. In his directorial debut, Sasso (known mostly for visual effects) shows promise, neatly observing the more humanistic aspects of the central dynamic through candid moments which blend fact and fiction. Nick is a natural in the ring, and the backstage footage of Nomi works well – although there is very little sense as to the scale of her fame, and the film only hints at any underlying pressures she may be under. As a result, her story is used mostly as a catalyst for Nick’s redemption. Unfortunately, there is also very little depth afforded to Nick’s character, either; seemingly haunted by a decision or an incident in his past which is never fully revealed. With Sasso playing it stoic and subdued, it is left to Nomi to provide the film’s brief flickers of emotion. Zoë Bell is underused as Nick’s Muay Thai coach, and the whole film feels like its building towards a big tournament finale, only without any adversary to provide a satisfying resolution. A ‘haymaker’ is a boxing term referring to a punch which is considered to be predictable or signalled in some way. Despite the film’s positive elements, it’s quite an apt metaphor for the story’s quite formulaic nature.

Haymaker is released in cinemas and on VOD and digital in the USA on 29 January 2021 courtesy of Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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