Undefeated (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
February 25, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“Undefeated” is a fantastic documentary that football fans will feel proud of. This is the heart and soul of a true underdog film, a team that no one believed in, but a volunteer coach and his staff who did and wanted to show them that there is hope, they can be winners if they continue to try hard at it. “Undefeated” is an inspirational film worth watching and is highly recommended!
FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 114 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: Anchor Bay Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (For Some Language)
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Directed by Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin
Produced by Ed Cunnningham, Seth Gordon, Daniel Lindsay, Rich Middlemas, Glen Zipper
Executive Producer: Sean Combs, Paolo Coppola, Michele Farinola, Neeraj Kohli, Jillian Longnecker, Chris Miller, Nigel Sinclair, Ralph Ziper
Music by Michael Brook, Daniel McMahon, Miles Nielsen
Cinematography – Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin
Montrail “Money” Brown
No hope. No future… until a football season united a team and revealed the character that turned them into heroes. UNDEFEATED, an Academy Awardr winning documentary, (2011 Best Documentary Feature – Dan Lindsay, TJ Martin and Rich Middlemas), is the inspiring and moving tale of three underprivileged student-athletes from inner-city Memphis and the volunteer coach, Bill Courtney, trying to help them beat the odds on and off the field.
In 2011, filmmakers Daniel Lindsay (“Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong”) and T.J. Martin (“Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong, “On the Rocks”) was intrigued with a newspaper article about a high school football player named O.C. Brown with football talent being helped by his coaches in order to get his grades up, so he can attend college.
But what they learned is that the team that O.C. Brown had played in had a much greater story to tell and thus the documentary “Undefeated” was born.
Shot with a low budget, featuring two filmmakers and their producer Rich Middlemas (of Tennessee) with two camcorders, no lighting and each sharing an apartment, the filmmakers shot an entire year at Manassas High School, edited the film for another year and their documentary was complete. The crew screened the film at South by Southwest and after its first two showings, a bidding war between movie studios took place and
“Undefeated” would eventually lead to the film receiving critical acclaim nationwide and winning an Academy Award for “Best Documentary”. In Feb. 2013, “Undefeated” was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.
“Undefeated” is a film about the high school football team, the Manassas High Tigers in Memphis, Tennessee. The region in Memphis near Manassas High School was once known for being a prosperous working-class area due to its Firestone plant but was turned upside down when the plant closed. And now, the location is known for being a poverty-stricken area, predominantly African-American and the inner city high school and its football team had been the laughing stock of the league with consecutive losing seasons, some without winning a single game.
But one man was determined to change that, business owner Bill Courtney and others who volunteered to become coaches at Manassas High.
For six years, Bill Courtney has sacrificed time with his family each football season, spent some of his money towards the team and tried to be mentor the children, while doing it all as a volunteer coach. He has seen his fair share of trouble with players being suspended, players getting into major trouble but for this group of teenagers who are in their final year, he feels this is his best team yet.
From the very tall offensive linesman O.C. Brown who has received attention for his size, speed and football skills but is also having difficulty keeping his grades up, which hurts his chances of getting into several colleges.
Chavis Daniels, a young player who got into major trouble, has anger issues since his father left him and has a very hot temper which Bill Courtney is trying to calm down and getting him situated with football as he has football talent.
And Montrail “Money” Brown, a defensive player for Manassas who may be short in stature but has a heart and passion for football and is always doing his best.
But as the coach tries to keep his team in check and ready for the season, he receives some setbacks when Chavis’s anger issues leads to him fighting with teammates, Money tearing his ACL and fears he may not play his final year with the team and O.C. Brown, the young but talented football player is not doing well in school and must pass his ACT’s in order to get into college.
And while Coach Courtney struggles to keep his players in check, to win games and put up with challenges business-wise and as a volunteer coach, he realizes that the time he is putting into taking care of his players at Manassas is also taking him away from his own children and it’s the last thing he wants as his father left him when he was young boy.
But when everyone never thinks of Manassas High School to win games, what happens when the team ends up winning games? Can Coach Courtney and his players reach the playoffs?
“Undefeated” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). It’s important to note that documentaries are typically not big budget films. They are shot digitally but for many documentaries, shot with a DSLR or shot with equipment that is not the best but yet gets the job done. And for “Undefeated”, the filmmakers get the job done with what they had for their budget.
Where the film shines is its closeup and the amount of detail that can be seen on the players faces. Colors are good and black levels are good. But for the most part, this documentary does look good on Blu-ray.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Undefeated” is presented in Englis 5.1 DS-HD MA. Like most documentaries, they typically are not created to utilize all surround channels. But the film features dialogue that is can be heard clearly, while some people may be hard to understand but English subtitles are presented. But for a documentary like “Undefeated”, lossless audio is appropriate.
Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.
“Undefeated” come with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Filmmakers Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin discuss the making of “Undefeated” and what they wanted to accomplish with the film during production and post-production.
- Deleted Scenes – A total of six deleted scenes.
- Black and White Teaser Trailer – (1:42)
- Making Of – Filmmakers Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin discuss the film’s origins and their reaction to winning an Academy Award.
An inspirational film about a Coach who sacrifices time with his family and volunteers as a head coach of an inner city football team in Memphis.
In some way, it does seem like a storyline that was taken from an episode of “Friday Night Lights” but in the case of “Undefeated”, this is a true story of Bill Courtney, a man who runs a business, has a family but chooses to not coach near his area which are primarily affluent families but to teach at Manassas High School, a high school that is predominately Black. But make no mistake about it, there is no racial issue when Bill and a few members of his team (who are Caucasian) are there to help these teenage football players.
Some who show extreme talent but others who have faced major issues in their personal lives.
Courtney sets everything up through his opening speech before the season and that is he saw players arrested, players suspended and things that have happened at Manassas that coaches would or never experience in their whole coaching career.
He preaches to his players to work as a team but also show character but letting his teammates know they must work hard, try hard and stay out of trouble.
But it’s the history of Manassas that we learn about and why he wants his players to work hard. Manassas High School has lost many games with many years of not winning one game. And are considered a laughing stock for other rival teams.
But with this group of young football players that Coach Courtney has who are graduating, this is his best team yet and he’s determined in making sure this team wins.
And after their first loss, they eventually begin to win games. But winning doesn’t come easy. In fact, throughout the documentary, Coach Courtney faces major issues when troubled teen Chavis Daniels, who has football experience, has rejoined the team after getting into major trouble. A teenager with major anger issues, his temper often gets the best of him and he ends up fighting with teammates.
O.C. Brown is the star football player with great size and speed as a high school player but his grades are suffering and no tutors are willing to come to the area, so Coach Courtney and another coach decide to let O.C. Brown stay with the family in order to allow him to get the tutoring he needs in order to graduate from high school and go to college.
Another player, Montrail “Money” Brown is a dedicated player who is passionate about football, good at his studies but after getting into a clash with Chavis and then tearing his ACL, Montrail starts to lose faith within himself and to not play football is one of the most difficult things he had has to face in his life and now loses interest in high school.
As Coach Courtney tries to play mentor and be a father figure for these young players, he wants to make sure they focus on the challenging weeks and win football games.
And with all the hardwork that the coach and his staff had put in with these children, they are able to make a difference in their lives.
The Blu-ray release for “Undefeated” is good as one can expect from a documentary on Blu-ray. Shot digitally, the film looks great during close-ups and as for its lossless soundtrack, dialogue and music was appropriate but one should not expect the greatest PQ or AQ considering it was a low-budget documentary. And as for special features, you do get a few including an audio commentary and making of.
Overall, “Undefeated” is a fantastic documentary that football fans will feel proud of. This is the heart and soul of a true underdog film, a team that no one believed in, but a volunteer coach and his staff who did and wanted to show them that there is hope, they can be winners if they continue to try hard at it.
Coach Courtney and the Manassas High School showed us the heart of winners and in essence, made “Undefeated” an inspirational film worth watching.
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