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Review: 'Like Water' packs no punch

The documentary about a mixed martial arts fighter never gets inside his head.

June 01, 2012|By Mark Olsen
  • Mixed martial artists Brazilian Anderson Silva (left) and Chael Sonnen, separated by UFC President Dana White, pose after a press conference.
Mixed martial artists Brazilian Anderson Silva (left) and Chael Sonnen,… (EPA )

A portrait of Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter Anderson "The Spider" Silva, the documentary"Like Water"feels wildly incomplete, a let-down for fans and initiates to the sport alike.

The film's title comes from a quote from the late martial arts master Bruce Lee, in which he explains how water takes on the properties of the container that holds it. Perhaps meant to explain Silva's mercurial nature, the brief glimpse of Lee only highlights how uncharismatic Silva is in comparison. He's a curiously inscrutable character who never reveals an interior life except to pine for his wife and children during a long training period away from home.

The film, by director Pablo Croce, simply never gets inside Silva's head. Silva can fight, it seems, though his soft belly and untoned physique don't exactly give him a menacing appearance.

A 2010 fight in which he mocked an opponent during the bout — good showmanship if bad sportsmanship — becomes a dramatic turning point in the film. The confrontation turned Silva into a villain, but he never explains himself to fans, the press, his manager or the camera. Later, when his next opponent, Chael Sonnen, mocked Silva in the build-up to a bout, the fighter oddly chose not to engage.

That an upcoming rematch isn't mentioned in the film makes it seem out-of-date, in addition to its other deficiencies.

"Like Water" fails to truly explore and explain Anderson Silva, and it's also a flop as a puff piece. Maybe just watch the man fight instead.

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"Like Water." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes. At AMC Block 30, Orange.

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