Directed and Edited by: Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin
Starring: Coach Bill Courtney, Montrail “Money,” Chavis, O.C., and Coach Mike Ray
Sick of Hollywood churning out the same ol’ cloying sports films filled with unearned emotion and over-sentimentality? Have we found the perfect antidote for you – the authentic and inspirational UNDEFEATED. Everyone loves a good underdog story, right?! Well this is just that: The tale of the Memphis Manassas Tigers – a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 110 years nor won a single game in 6. But all that is about to change during the team’s 2009 season.
You are there throughout the Tigers’ triumphs and tribulations in a poverty-stricken town that’s desperate for a hit of hope. Not only does the film follow volunteer Coach Bill Courtney as he motivates and keeps together a team who – at times – are their own worst enemy, but it also chronicles the lives of three underprivileged team members as they try to beat the insurmountable odds stacked against them. Coach Courtney, a successful businessman turned volunteer football coach, has basically reinvigorated and revived the football program since he started in 2004. When he arrived, the Tigers only had old, overused equipment and a sad, dried up patch of field to practice on. Now thanks to the ManRise organization (which helps bolster funding for the football program), things have gotten better.
It’s senior year for the team’s star left tackle, O.C.. While he’s blessed in spades with size and speed, his grades leave something to be desired. With football scholarships hanging in the balance, he has to juggle practice with intense tutoring so he can pass his exams. Also in his final season is “Money” (Montrail), the small but mighty offensive lineman. He’s an honors student also hoping for an academic scholarship. And finally there’s Chavis. He’s a talented linebacker in his junior year, whose biggest challenge is keeping his raging temper at bay. There’s a lot on the line for the team, but also for these three players hoping for their ticket out.
UNDEFEATED transcends the usual sports film genre to make this a winning, heartfelt story about a team struggling to survive. And you don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy the film either. Lord knows, I’m not. But what you will connect with is the film’s genuine humanity. It’s compelling to watch Coach Courtney’s dedication, devotion, and desire to see these kids rise above the challenges that life has dealt them – even if it means that his own family suffers from his absence. Witnessing O.C., Money, and Chavis’ highs and lows is incredibly moving – especially when they are blindsided by unforeseen events. If the “uncommon man” scene doesn’t leave you in tears, you are a robot. The only minor strike against the film is that it takes about 10 minutes to connect with viewers. But once it does, it’s a soul-stirring, gripping, emotional ride. Audiences will feel like they are the silent team member both on the field and in the classroom.