Fighting with My Family is a 2019 drama film written, produced, & directed by Stephen Merchant (Cemetery Junction, The Office, Extras, Life’s Too Short, & Hello Ladies). It was produced by MGM, Film 4, & WWE Studios. It was also produced by Dwayne Johnson (Snitch, Baywatch, Rampage, Ballers, & Shazam!), Daniel Battsek (Widows, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, American Animals, & Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), & David Kosse (Room, Free Fire, Adrift, & Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk). It’s based off Max Fisher’s 2012 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family. The Knight family actually had one more family member but she wasn’t into wrestling so she wasn’t used in the movie. The budget was $11 million & it grossed $39.1 million worldwide at the box office.
In 2002 in England, 10-year-old Zak Bevis is engrossed by the WWF (now WWE) King of the Ring pay-per-view event until his younger sister Saraya changes the channel to her favorite program, Their parents parents Ricky (played by: Nick Frost from from Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Paul, Attack the Block, & Pirate Radio) & Julia (played by: Lena Headey from Game of Thrones, Dredd, 300 1/2, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, & The Purge) book them in their first wrestling match years later. A few years later competing under the ring name “Britani Knight”, Saraya (played by: Florence Pugh from Midsommar, The Falling, Malevolent, & The Little Drummer Girl) & her brother “Zak Zodiac” (played by: Jack Lowden from Dunkirk, Calibre, Tommy’s Honour, & England Is Mine) help their parents train prospective wrestlers while working toward their own promotion. Ricky & Julia get WWE tryouts for children with trainer Hutch Morgan (played by: Vince Vaughn from Psycho, Swingers, Brawl in Cell Block 99, & Dragged Across Concrete). They both met legendary wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (played by: himself from Faster, Jumanji franchise, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Doom, & Fast and Furious franchise) & get some advice from the veteran, Paige makes the cut & Zak is left behind. This causes problems between the siblings. She goes to America in Florida to train for the NXT promotion.
She meets her fellow female trainees Jeri-Lynn (played by: Kim Matula from Pink, LA to Vegas, UnREAL, & Dawn Patrol), Kirsten (played by: Aqueela Zoll from Bad Timing, Rush: Inspired by Battlefield, Dances with Werewolves, & Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort), & Maddison (played by: Ellie Gonsalves from Zebra) there. Most of them are former models with no wrestling experience so she doesn’t fit in with them at all. She has a tough time adjusting to her new life with the promotion. She learns that her parents are selling merchandise with her name on it & booking matches without her permission. She changes her whole look & style to blend in with the others but it almost causes her to quit everything after reconsidering her whole life with this sport. Zak is desperate to make the WWE but he strugglies & ends up taking hardcore matches to keep wrestling. He ends up training young talent after that. After reconnecting with her brother & family, she decides to go back to what inspired her to do wrestling in the first place. She trains harder than anyone & she makes it to the WWE finally after going through hell for it. She makes her debut & defeats AJ Lee (played by: Thea Trinidad aKa Zelina Vega/Rosita from WWE, TNA, Army of the Damned, & Self Storage) for the WWE Divas Championship!!!
Let’s be honest, WWE Studios doesn’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to producing & releasing movies. Luckily, this is their type of production so it’s perfect for them. This ended up being one of the best features from them so far & it told the story of a rather unknown wrestling family besides Paige from England. The chemistry between the cast was top notch especially the brother & sister relationship. The story of the under-dog trying to make it has been done several times but rare when it comes to the wrestling sub genre for wrestling so it was a fresh take on the familiar concept. Florence Pugh just killed it on Midsommar & she was great in this as Paige. It also had a real solid supporting cast that includes Jack Lowden, Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Vince Vaughn, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, director Stephen Merchant, Julia Davis, & Kim Matula that helped boost the overall quality of the entire production. It has a nice amount of humor to balance out the drama & action here. It was much better than expected, I really enjoyed it. It has a little something for everyone in this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Universal! This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer looks awesome on blu ray. The independent & professional wrestling atmosphere really shines in Fighting with My Family. Fans of the sport will geek out & appreciate the realism of the scenery here. It has two different audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & French (Canada): DTS 5.1 on the release. The dialogue is crystal clear. all the wrestling action is elevated, & the music has a great boost to it. It also has English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Universal! It has an “Audio Commentary” with director Stephen Merchant. He goes over the opening scene & why he used it. He mentions the soundtrack a little bit. He brings up that Dwayne Johnson couldn’t sleep one night & seen a documentary on the family in England which hooked him because he came from a wrestling family himself. He said it had a Rocky vibe to it & he wanted to a produce a film from it. Stephen Merchant said he was originally not that interested in doing this project. He chats about researching the material & goes into more detail about the Knight family. He says the original cut was two & a half hours long. He explains that his main point of his character in this would help the outside world know more about wrestling if they weren’t familiar with it.He talks about working with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson & how everything was so natural with him. He chats about some of the rest of the cast & what they brought to this production. He says he took direct real scenes from the original documentary & re-created them for the feature. He explains why more NXT wasn’t covered in the actual film. He mentions the real family & differences between who was cast for them. The real Ricky wanted Ray Winstone to play him in this feature. He brings up putting together the wrestling events & footage for the movie. He says he convinced Big Show & Sheamus to appear in the feature the last minute at a show. He points out the cameo from the real life Zak. He talks about cutting down the film & editing things to get a better flow for it. He does scene by scene for the most part & he drops lots of information about the production. It has an option to view the “Director’s Cut” of the feature. Almost 9 minutes of “Deleted & Extended Scenes” which includes Zak Chases EZ – Extended, Dinner with the Knights – Extended, Heavy Lifting, You’ve Changed, Introducing August Heights, & Paige Talks Smack. “Gag Reel” is almost 3 minutes & it has some funny moments from the set. “A Family’s Passion: A Making-Of” is almost 9 minutes. It has interviews with director Stephen Merchant, The Knight family including the real life Paige, Jack Lowden, Nick Frost, Lena Headey, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson”, & Florence Pugh. They chat about the Knight family. They talk about their experience & learning how to deal with this wrestling world. They bring up the training & research they had to do for it. Learning the Moves” is a little over 3 minutes. It has interviews with director Stephen Merchant, Paige, Florence Pugh, Jack Lowden, & various members of the production. They chat about the wrestling industry. They talk about all the training & hard work to it takes. It shows some behind the scenes footage from it. Some of the professional wrestlers from the feature share their experiences. It also has a slipcover, a digital code, & a DVD copy of the release. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!