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Spirit of the Game (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 29, 2017 by  



“Spirit of the Game” is no doubt a feel-good, underdog rising through adversity type of film. Sure, there is some sort of banality compared to other underdog sports films, but “Spirit of the Game” goes beyond winning on the basketball court, but also the importance of missionary work and using basketball as a strong form of communication with the community. “Spirit of the Game” is a film worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Spirits of the Game Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Spirit of the Game

FILM YEAR: 2016

DURATION: 98 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (Mild Thematic Elements)

AVAILABLE ON: February 7, 2017


Directed by Darran Scott

Written by Darran Scott

Produced by Steve Jaggi, Spencer McLaren, Kate Whitbread

Executive Produced by Craig Deeker, Devin Durrant, Phil Hunt, Janine Pearce, Compton Ross, Darran Scott

Associate Producer: Harry Borland

Music by Ned McPhie, Matt Rudduck

Cinematography by Brian J. Breheny

Edited by Adrian Powers

Casting by Ann Fay, Louise Mitchell

Production Design by Adele Flere

Set Decoration by Robert Molnar

Costume Design by Andrew Infanti


Starring:

Aaron Jakubenko as Delyle Condie

Kevin Sorbo as Parley Condie

Heidi Arena as Mary Condie

Rudi Baker as Stan Page

Bailey Barbour as Young Delyle

Roy Barker as Syd

Corey Bear as Elder Christensen

Ben Bordeau as Jean-Paul Beugnot

Wade Briggs as Don Hull

Cameron Caulfield as Brett Davies

Hannah Cliff as Norma Condie

Emilie Cocquerel as Emily

Sam Hayden-Smith as James Condie

Andrew Hearle as Elder Frodsham

Jean-Philippe Heon as Coach Busnel

Jacob Machin as Grant Condie

Anna McGahan as Elspeth

Neil Melville as David O. McKay

Ben Prendergast as Coach Gardner


It’s 1956 and twenty-year-old Delyle Condie is on top of the world. MVP of his college basketball team (University of Utah) and engaged to Emily, his high school sweetheart, life is looking pretty good. That is, until the second round of the NCAA tournament. Midway through the most important game of his life, Emily unexpectedly breaks off her engagement to Delyle. Heartbroken, Delyle makes the spontaneous decision to quit basketball and embark on a mission for his church. His destination: Melbourne, Australia. A city gripped with Olympic fever, Delyle’s first encounters with the Aussies are not encouraging. He struggles to maintain his spirits when faced with the indifference of the locals, but when an opportunity arises to help train Australia’s first Olympic basketball team, Delyle sees his chance to connect with them. His passion leads to the formation of the Mormon Yankees basketball team, and in the run up to the Games, fierce competition with the French leads to a bloody rematch.


The Mormon Yankees.

A group of Mormons who formed a basketball team who played against countries preparing for the 1956 Olympics.  Did this actually happen?

Filmmaker/screenwriter Darran Scott (“The Playbook”, “Walk By Faith”, “A Brigh Shining Life”) explores the Mormon Yankees for his film “Spirit of the Game”, which will be available on DVD in February 2017 courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film stars Aaron Jakubenko (“Spartacus: War of the Damned”, “The Shannara Chronicles”, “Roman Empire: Reign of Blood”), Kevin Sorbo (“Andromeda”, “God’s Not Dead”, “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”), Wade Briggs (“Still Star-Crossed”, “Please Like Me”), Hannah Cliff (“Neighbours”, “House Husbands”), Emilie Coquerel (“Lion”, “An Accidental Soldier”) and more.

The film revolves around DeLyle Condie (portrayed by Aaroon Jakubenko), a 7-foot-6 college basketball standout and MVP for the University of Utah who is doing great in basketball and is set to marry his childhood love, Emily (portrayed by Emilie Cocquerel).

With the support of his mom and father Parley (portrayed by Kevin Sorbo), all is going well until Emily comes back from staying with her sister for several weeks and tells him that she can’t marry him and sees her with another man.

Feeling defeated and feeling his love for basketball is not his priority, DeLyle quits basketball and decides to go on a mission for his church in Melbourne, Australia.

As Australia is preparing for the 1956 Olympics, he and his fellow missionaries take part in a friendly match against members of the Australian Olympic basketball team and the missionaries beat them.

But the leader of the missionary in Australia reminds DeLyle of why he is in Australia and he must stop playing basketball.

But life as a missionary proves to be challenging but when he sees how the community are embracing basketball, the Australian coach Ken Watson (portrayed by Grant Piro) has a plan, for DeLyle and his fellow missionaries to come together as a basketball team and prep the Australian basketball team for the Olympics.

DeLyle starts to see basketball as the opportunity to bring the community together and introduce people to the church.  But will it work?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Spirit of the Game” is presented in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Picture quality is good, as one can expect on DVD and with most of the film shot outdoors, picture quality is quite good. Dialogue and music is clear and understandable.  Surround channels are utilized in more of the crowd scenes during the basketball games.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Spirit of the Game” comes with the “Behind the Scenes: Spirit of the Game” featurette.


Back in 1956, the accomplishments of a Mormon team, known as the Mormon Yankees, a basketball team of Mormons who banded together to scrimmage the Australian Olympic basketball team made big news for what they accomplished on the court but also their accomplishments off the court… for the sake of using basketball to promote a positive message to the community and the church.

Led by DeLyle Condie, a former University of Utah basketball MVP with the skills to make it to the NBA, DeLyle Condie would lead a team who would also compete and help prep the Olympic basketball teams in a matchup that would shock people because the Mormon Yankees would win.

The film is an underdog team becoming heroes feel-good film but also a film that showcases a positive spiritual tone that people with an open mind will enjoy.

While I don’t know how accurate the film is compared to the real DeLyle Condie and the Mormon Yankees, when it comes to films about Mormon missionaries, you don’t really see that many of them.  But there are solid and higher budget films such as Disney’s “The Other Side of Heaven” starring Christopher Gorham and Anne Hathaway and even the wicked horror thriller, “Missionary”, to name a few.

But as I mentioned in previous film reviews of Christian films, I like films that are able to communicate a message without being overly preachy and giving people the choice to make-up their minds and learn, rather than feeling forced to accept a belief, ideology or religion.

Personally, I enjoyed “Spirits of the game” for its pure entertainment of seeing a man dedicated to his religion and reaching out to the community through basketball.  Putting others in need first, before himself and the basketball team, if the real-life DeLyle Condie is like the person portrayed in the film, then I can’t help but feel that the basketball player was a very cool individual.

I did like the touches to make the feel of the 1950’s era with hairstyles, costume design and even basketball competition with the small courts, lower baskets, granny foul shots and even the lax of international competition and how hard fouls were at that time.

Overall, “Spirit of the Game” is no doubt a feel-good, underdog rising through adversity type of film.  Sure, there is some sort of banality compared to other underdog sports films, but “Spirit of the Game” goes beyond winning on the basketball court, but also the importance of missionary work and using basketball as a strong form of communication with the community.

“Spirit of the Game” is a film worth watching!






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