DVD Review: Takedown: The DNA of GSP
The Athenian thesis posits that human beings must yield to the compelling force of their human nature. The desire to dominate an opponent simply acts in accordance with the human, all too human traits that drive competitors to succeed. There is no need to appeal to the gods, because taking down a combatant is a completely natural act.
We are often reminded of the Athenian Thesis during Takedown: The DNA of GSP, the at-times captivating portrait of UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre, directed by Kristian Manchester and Peter Svatek. What is so fascinating about GSP is not that he follows the Athenian Thesis; he doesn’t. What he does do, though, (and what Manchester and Svatek capture so effortlessly), is see himself as a moral person, a tough position to maintain in the breakneck world of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Throughout the film, GSP positions himself as more than a champion, (he held the UFC welterweight champion for over five and a half years), but GSP seems to view himself as being a champion human being, and after watching the movie, the audience is inclined to agree.
Some of the finest moments in Takedown: the DNA of GSP are the humble displays by GSP—and they do not seem to be staged. Immediately after defeating an opponent, GSP apologizes to him for kicking his ass. Another scene finds GSP welcoming his father into the ring to celebrate a victory with him, and seeming to almost be embarrassed by his father’s choice of dress, (to say nothing of GSP’s condition at the time). This all-access view of GSP is not limited to the ring. A crucial scene in the film occurs when St-Pierre goes for experimental ACL surgery, which could have ended his career. The footage is able to access GSP in the operating room post-surgery, woozy from a grueling surgery, and explaining to the camera that he does not and has never taken performance-enhancing drugs, (during the press day, when GSP visited Toronto to promote the film, he seemed quite disappointed that not one writer even questioned him about his non-use of PEDs, even revealing that he had a statement prepared).
Indeed, Takedown follows a compelling narrative about the in-ring career of GSP: he lost an early match to Matt Hughes to a submission hold because he left himself vulnerable to submissions, and a later match to Matt Serra because his head was not in the game (these were the only two losses of his otherwise unblemished career). Every misstep was for a reason; every challenge was so that it could be overcome. Though Takedown documents a past arc, and serious fans would be familiar with the results of the matches, the casual fan, (or non-fan) is captivated by Georges St-Pierre’s march to defeat the yin to his yang, Mexican-American fighter Nick Diaz.
Unlike professional wrestling, UFC does not position its fighters as “faces” (good guys), and “heels” (bad guys). But it is clear from the showdown with the lead-up to the showdown with Diaz, as well as the difficult recovery from ACL surgery, that GSP, (or at least the directors), present GSP as the face, and Diaz as the heel. Diaz is shown swearing, (astonishingly, this act is seen as gauche), constantly taunting GSP, and dismissing St-Pierre’s early experience with being bullied as insignificant. Takedown really hits the ground when GSP is gearing up for a fight with Diaz, and yet must go through a series of opponents and setbacks to even get into the ring with him. Does St-Pierre finally teach Diaz a lesson? Can GSP take down, (he is famous for his ground attack), this unhinged opponent? Takedown provides quite the Rush of adrenaline.
Takedown, the DNA of GSP, is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Remstar Films, and will premiere on May 10th on HBO Canada.