Director: Monte Hellman

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Warren Oates & a superb supporting cast turn in splendid performances in a film that conveys the world of professional cockfighting in all its gory glory. The film believes in its material & neither tries to sentimentalize the roosters nor exaggerate the cruelty. It is exceedingly grim even without exaggeration, but the people involved are no more wicked than any of us.

Oates plays a man who has often in the past gotten himself in trouble with his big mouth. So he has sworn to himself never to speak again, until he wins the Cockfighter of the Year Medal. Two years later everyone has gotten used to the mute cockfighter, though nobody knows why he doesn't speak. He travels around the south from fighting pit to fighting bit, making alliances with breeders of fighting cocks whose birds he can train, rebuilding his fame as a rooster trainer.

This man's heroic sense of himself as a great bird conditioner vs his addiction to the gambling aspect of the sport provides the dramatic tension. The roosters provide the action, & it is such that even non-vegetarians could easily get upset with the film, which pretty obviously could not make the standard claim "No animal was harmed in the making of this film" no more than a package of hotdogs could claim no animals were killed.

In its own way the film is beautiful, & it provides a clear window into a world unknown to the rest of us.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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