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From the very first scene of a gym parking lot bathed in early morning light, director and Seattle local Jeff Unay manages to balance the tender and the violent when looking into an oft-misunderstood sport. The Cage Fighter's story (think Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler but IRL) revolves around Joe Carman, a middle-aged mixed martial arts fighter who has a big heart but lives a life that’s rough around the edges.

Carmen has to choose between his family and his desire to keep kicking the shit out of people (or getting the shit kicked out of him) in the ring. Shot in a raw but well-developed vérité style, the documentary swerves neatly from Carman’s high-adrenaline matches to him goofing off with his kids to the dark and violent people in his life (his father, his coach) who influence the choices he makes.