Even if documentaries aren’t your thing, if you like sports films or if you always find yourself rooting for the little guy, Undefeated is the film for you.
A high school football team in the heart of Memphis, the Manassas Tigers have never won a playoff game. In 2009, their coach, Bill Courtney, after 6 years volunteering with the program is determined to have his guys win a playoff game.
The documentary focuses on four main characters. Courtney is a family man who owns a business but has a passion for football and coaching. He sees a need, being a man who grew up without a father, to step up and teach the teenagers of Manassas how to overcome their circumstances. His three star players have chances for scholarships and college (or maybe even college football). Courtney and another coach go so far as to help O.C. Brown by giving him a place to stay during the week so that he can have a tutor.
There are a lot of anger issues among the teens, and one star player has a lot of his season taken from him in a surprise injury. Most of them live in poverty and with only one parent. Courtney teaches again and again that you play with character–if you play for the team instead of yourself–winning will follow. He teaches leadership and humility, although not necessarily patience.
I thought the film was very well done. The pacing was good, the cinematography had a raw darkness to it that gave it a great mood, and the narrative was great. It isn’t necessarily an uplifting story, but it held my attention all the same. The selflessness of the couches is touching and the team meetings are very revealing. I hope that what Courtney could do for the Manassas Tigers spread through the rest of the school and continued once he left.
If you enjoy a good sport film or documentary, I would definitely recommend Undefeated.