I am not what you might called “cultured”. I don’t eat caviar, I don’t smoke fine tobacco, and I’m not big on French movies (except for the Battle of Algiers, but let’s not get sidetracked). I’m not Gene Siskel or Roger Ebert. I’m a simple man, with simple views on life. And I think that everyman, blue-collar outlook on life is exactly why Jens Pulver’s DRIVEN documentary is so appealing.
We don’t really make a habit of doing movie reviews either here or elsewhere. But this movie is different. It’s different in every way from every documentary, about MMA or not. From the opening frame of the movie, you get the sense that this is truly about the love and admiration of the sport and athlete, rather than the bottom dollar. As a hardcore dude, I can fully appreciate the feeling of doing something because you love it, and not because it’s profitable. And that’s what this movie is about.
When you hit play on this DVD (and hopefully Blu-Ray is coming soon?), you’re not greeted with the lifeless FBI warning screen. There are no threats of a fine of up to $10,000 or jail time. Instead, Gregory Bayne, the director and basically, the guy responsible for funding the film, asks that you not pirate the movie. There was even a quick line in there about how screening the movie for profit (without their permission) would be frowned upon, and to remember that one of them was a three-time UFC champion. Totally awesome and personal. No stupid blue/green screen threatening you. It’s just a polite message asking that you support something that they spent months working on.
As far as the movie, itself, it follows Jens Pulver as he readies for what would eventually be his final WEC fight with Javier Vasquez in March of 2010. Right off the bat, it takes a deeply personal turn, as Jens opens up the door to his life for everyone to look into, voyeuristically. Jens, just like his MMA career, doesn’t pull a single punch. He lets it all hang out. There are tears from just about everyone involved, including me at several points.
Pulver invites you into every aspect of his life: his career, his history, and his personal life. You get to meet Pulver’s whole family, including wife and kids. Pulver admits that he’s definitely the emotional one, and his career tells the same story. After watching his loss at WEC 47, his speech afterward about breaking down in front of everyone has nothing on the sort of intensity this documentary brings to the table.
Aside from me blubbering like a fool, this documentary takes a close look at the training regiment involved with getting prepared for a fight. Pulver pushes himself to the limit each training session. Having wrestled in high school, Pulver has been an athlete all of his life. For him, the UFC was the next step along his path. ”This shit was made for me,” Pulver recalls.
Again, being that I’m no movie critic, the best I can offer is that you purchase this movie and support a true DIY film. Bayne has put up the first 15 minutes of the movie for everyone to take a look at:
Do yourself a favor and watch this movie.
Buy it on iTunes:
Buy a physical copy, like I did: