Aaron Leong directs Cody Chestnut in the inspirational true story, Notorious Nick from Grindstone Entertainment Group. Nick Newell (Cody Chestnut) was born with a partial left arm and shares a passion for wrestling with his best friend Abi (Cameron James Matthews). The duo have been thick as thieves since Abi stood up for Nick against a bully when they were kids. Nick also has a loving mom named Stacey (Elizabeth Rohm).
After graduating high school and excelling in wrestling, Abi introduces Nick to the world of MMA. The friends catch the attention of local promoter (Kevin Pollak). However, when an unexpected twist of events forces Nick to step up, he must reunite with his former wrestling coach (Barry Livingston) to become a champion fighter.
Outside of the most popular names, I can’t really name any MMA fighters. However, I am a fan of true story cinema and Chestnut’s work on the hit show All American, so I decided to give the film a look. The trio of Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken and Darrin Reed script the film which follows the traditional sports biopic template.
We see Nick doubt himself, train, get a confidence boost and deal with naysayers who doubt his ability. Thankfully, director Aaron Leong keeps the runtime short and never allows the film to overstay its welcome with overdrawn exposition, a love interest or mundane subplots. Chestnut is a great lead to root for as he gives Nick charisma. Chestnut has great chemistry with everyone in the cast, whether facing an opponent in the ring or winning over a board of commissions.
The supporting cast in the film all fall into their character archetypes. No one ever attempts to elevate the film which is fine, as they don’t need to, since we know exactly how the film will end. Kudos to the fight chorographer as well, with the MMA action in the film coming off realistic and impressive.
Notorious Nick doesn’t break any new ground as the filmmaker’s only goal was to make an inspirational sports drama, in which they succeed.
Final Grade : B-