You may have found yourself at a movie theater to support a Christian film in the past, surrounded by members of your church, where the movie was corny, cheesy or unrealistic, the gospel was forced into scenes unnaturally, and you were glad you didn’t invite an unsaved friend. “Champion” is not that movie. It seems the industry is starting to get the idea behind making Christian films: outreach.
This is not a movie made exclusively for Christians with cameos by famous Christian bands; “Champion” is a movie with actual potential to reach the unsaved. The gospel is presented very clearly and understandably in the film, but not in unrealistic or awkward ways, and only twice. The Christians in the movie, for the most part, feel like real people who make mistakes just like everyone else. The unsaved are not portrayed as heartless monsters who are angry with God but as human beings with emotions and struggles.
“Champion” is the story of two men and how their worlds collide due to a horrible accident. Sean, played by Andrew Cheney, is a dirt track racer. He is at the top of his game and he makes sure everyone knows it. He has an adoring daughter, Gracie (Faith Renee Kennedy), and the world is his oyster. However, another racer begins encroaching on his territory and, soon, Sean is working to ensure his place at the top of the food chain.
Jack, played by Gary Graham, is a businessman who experienced severe pain in his life and, so, let work take over his life and drive a wedge between him and his son, Ray (Isaiah Stratton), for many years. However, his son reaches out to him unexpectedly and wants to reconcile. Jack is eager to restore the relationship he once had with his son, but then has the opportunity snatched from his hands and doesn’t know what to do.
Real life struggles
To be fair, “Champion” is not completely devoid of flat characters or awkward moments, but they do not make up the majority of the movie. They are notable exceptions which help make the movie palatable. There is a family that is lacking in depth and reality, portrayed as near saints with perfect lives and a perfect home. However, there is a couple that comes across as having had struggled to do the right thing; but their ability to do so was granted by God. This definitely contrasts sharply with Christian movies of days past.
The music was generally good, but one scene showed a worship service going on for a little too long. There were moments of serious conversation that were accompanied by soap-opera-like dramatic music; not the film’s best moments. For the most part, though, the music was decent.
There were a few scenes that were a little unrealistic. In one scene, a character prays out loud during a church service while the pastor is praying. On the other hand, there were some really great scenes that could even make viewers a little teary-eyed.
In the end, it’s a movie about forgiveness. It’s about how forgiveness is not deserved, but it will bring peace. Most importantly, perhaps, it’s about how, “nothing can change a life more than forgiveness.”
Over the past ten years, Christian moviemakers have been stepping up their game and really putting out some watchable movies. Christian films have mainly been supported by Christians who feel that they ought to watch them, but who sometimes are not excited to watch them. Champion breaks the mold.
This is a movie that an unbeliever could watch without feeling like they’re being preached to, but still walk away having heard and seen the gospel in action. What better commendation could a film receive?
As Jesus ascended into heaven, he left us with a final task: to go and make disciples in his name (Matthew 28:19-20). This film is a big step in that direction.
A native-born Miamian, Tami Gomez is a freelance writer for the Good News while she and her husband attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. They hope to become missionaries to the Far East. She can be reached at [email protected].