Grillo's love letter to martial arts and Anthony Bourdain. I loved this in spite of some of its flaws. It's absolutely stunning visually which is able to cover the fact that Grillo and his team lack the wit, intelligence and worldliness of the late, great Anthony Bourdain.
Unlike other martial arts docuseries of the past, Fightworld focuses its attentions less on the arts themselves but on the fighters, coaches and cultures from which they hail. While Grillo is a charasmatic dramatic actor, capable host, and physical specimen at 51 years old he's easily the least interesting part of the show. Which isn't to say he's boring but when you're examining the fighting arts of Mexico, Thailand, Myanmar, Senegal, and Israel. So instead of it being about Grillo learning whichever country's art and putting on some mock exhibition, he takes a back seat to letting the far more interesting aspects of the show shine. Grillo's greatest strength as host is his seemingly endless respect, his willingness to display vulnerability and his empathy.
I loved that the show got off the well-beaten path of Thailand, Brazil, Israel for episodes in Myanmar and Senegal. There are definitely criticisms to be had in how the show presents the mysticism that is so important to Senegal's Laamb Wrestling and what felt like an Israeli informmercial in the first half of that episode.
Despite those shortcomings, there is so much to recommend here, so much beauty and humanity on display that I can't recommend this highly enough.
"Things aren't looking too good for black people right now PR-wise" Tracy Morgan
"The way that you control a motherfucker that ain't don't nothing is you give them something. Then you hold it over their heads." Patrice O'Neal