By Don Simpson | October 7, 2014
Directors: Daniel Junge, Bryan Storkel
The subjects of Bryan Storkel’s Holy Rollers: The True Story Of Card Counting Christians may have discovered ways to interpret the Bible in such a way to legitimize gambling, but Storkel’s newest film Fight Church (which he co-directed with Daniel Junge) takes the reinterpretation of the Bible to a much more extreme level. Focusing primarily on Pastors Paul Burress, Preston Hocker and Nahshon Nicks, Fight Church reveals a unique subset of Christianity that utilizes mixed martial arts as a way to preach the gospel.
Echoing the refrain “Jesus never tapped out,” these ass-kicking pastors seem to have no problems with using the MMA cage as a pulpit while beating their proverbial brothers to a pulp. Fight churches may sound ridiculous to us naysayers, but the combination of mixed martial arts and religion certainly is an excellent marketing tactic for pop-up churches who are looking to coerce new demographics of people into their flock. But Christian or non-Christian, it is difficult not to pause and question the legitimacy of it all. A lone Catholic priest, Reverend John Duffell is presented as the primary gadfly to the antics of the fight churches. Dismayed by the way the world of God has been misappropriated by fight churches, Duffell is determined to keep MMA fighting out of the state of New York, the final bastion of hope for those who do not condone the world of “ultimate fighting.” Duffell is obviously part of the old world, while fight churches have moved far away from the perceived stodginess of Catholicism and the like.
All judgment aside, the pastors are presented as perfectly nice human beings, but this all just seems a wee bit hypocritical for staunch disciples of Jesus. Storkel and Junge, however, admirably approach their subjects with seemingly no hidden agendas; the perspective of Fight Church is one that is mesmerized by the inherent contradictions of combining Christianity with fighting for sport. If there is one word to synopsize Fight Church it probably would be mesmerizing. Even for someone with little interest in Christianity or mixed martial arts, Fight Church serves as an incredibly intriguing portrait of a strange and utterly inexplicable dichotomy that will prompt you to contemplate the roles of religion and fighting for sport in our crazy modern world.