While essentially nothing more than a made for TV puff piece designed to make its main subject look as human as possible while participating in one of the world’s greatest bloodsports, Takedown: The DNA of GSP looks at Montreal Mixed Martial Arts maven Georges St-Pierre in an entertaining and informative light. Filmmakers Peter Svatek and Kristian Manchester hit every beat that needs to be hit in the sport-profile playbook, but at least they have crafted something that seems like an authoritative document on a fairly private professional athlete. It has just enough weight to warrant a watch even from people who never followed St-Pierre’s meteoric rise through the UFC to become the welterweight champion and amass more wins than anyone in the history of the organization.
Takedown looks specifically at one major and potentially career ending point in St-Pierre’s life: the tearing of his ACL while training to fight number one contender and all around unlikeable loud-mouth Nick Diaz. Taking a little time to look at St-Pierre’s upbringing and background, the bulk of the film looks at the moments leading up to one of the scariest injuries any athlete can suffer and the long road back to a full recovery that isn’t guaranteed even with the fighter’s hard work and training.
It helps a lot that Georges is an incredibly easy person to follow around in a sport that is by own admission full of people that are “certifiable.” He has a genuine humility and transparency that comes across on screen in moments where after he comes out of surgery he lets his guard drop to say how badly he wants to kick Diaz’s ass or in how frankly he talks about mentally being unprepared for his own comeback. He also isn’t afraid to talk at length about the mistakes and missteps he’s had in his career with a great degree of candor.
But like any film of this kind, it’s still just a better produced, fully rounded version of something that would normally be cut down to three or five minutes on a PPV or a news magazine. It’s not really a vital document, and it’s likely to not win over any converts that are critical of MMA as being some kind of dubious, barbaric sport, but there is a certain entertainment value to it and likeability that’s pretty undeniable.