Set in the inner-city of Memphis, Daniel Lindsay & T.J. Martin's Undefeated
chronicles the Manassas Tigers' 2009 high school football team. The film splits its time between the on and off-the-field lives of these players as they strive to be the first team in their school's history to win a playoff game. Undefeated is a sports documentary that transcends sports, telling a heart-wrenching, human drama about how valuble sports and guidance can be for at risk youth. The film doesn't get sentimental about its intentions,
never falling victim to the tropes of the "feel good movie", instead being raw and unflinching filmmaking intent on simply documenting their experience. Bill Courtney, a lumber salesman who volunteers as the head coach, is really nothing short of a hero in what he does for these young men. It's simply fascinating to watch this man groom these boys into men with a passion and resolve that is quite frankly, inspiring. I know too many people who right off sports as vapid machoism, but Undefeated shows the power of sports in its ability to build character and become a better porson because of it. Bill Courney has a line at the very beginnning of the film which perfectly encapsulates this: "Football doesn't build character, it reveals it". From a technical standpoint, Undefeated is not a "talking heads" doc, being elevated from stylistic editing and cinematography which really aids in building tension and emotion in the story. I would go as far as to say this film deserved accolades for its editing, which in my opinion, really made the film as powerful and disntinctive as it was. Undefeated is not a sports movie, but a movie about impoverished youth, with football simply being a tool which aids them in their growth as men.
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