Fighting Olympus (2023) Review
Fighting Olympus opens on Biddle’s (Devinair Mathis, Heads Will Roll, Divided) last day as a member of the SWAT team. On the way to his final assignment, he asks his brother Rucker (Leslie A. Jones, The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, Cafe in the Void) to join him in retirement. He says he can’t, somebody has to offset all the corrupt cops in the department. “What are you, the black Captain America?”
Actually, it’s Biddle whose path seems to resemble that of The Original Avenger. He’s trading in his badge to work outside of the system with Ayasha (Anaya T. Kaur, P.I.p.i.), a reporter who takes on important and potentially dangerous stories. Unfortunately, something goes wrong and they’re seemingly killed pursuing a story.
Writer/director Julian Hampton (Cranky, Church N State) sets up what seems to be a fairly standard revenge-themed action film as Rucker sets out to find his brother’s killers. But the film takes a turn into left field when he learns that Biddle might still be alive, the captive of a shadowy organization.
From Rucker’s first meeting with Cerberus (Cory Roberts, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, The Bad Batch), not the Aardvark, but a huge man who claims to have guarded the gates of hell it’s obvious that Fighting Olympus isn’t going to be as straightforward as it might have seemed.
Rucker is about to get caught up in what may or may not be a conflict among modern incarnations of the Greek pantheon starting with Charon (Charles Gabos) who takes him to meet with Athena (Caroline Hallum, Shimmer, The Asphalt Ballad of Lenny Disco) who tasks him with bringing her the head of Medusa (Haley Jackson, The Black Curtain: Episode 2, Deep in the Clouds). That sets a chain of increasingly strange events into motion.
For those rolling their eyes at that, it doesn’t mean this is Clash of the Titans in modern-day Los Angeles. One can view it from the perspective that these are simply codenames chosen to reflect an aspect of the character’s personality, their place in the organization, etc. Or you can see it as a variation on the story of Orpheus, only Rucker is seeking a way to Hades to rescue his brother rather than his wife.
Whichever way you choose to take it, Fighting Olympus is an enjoyably imaginative film. The characters don’t always represent what their namesakes are best known as. We may think of Apollo (Benjamin Sadipe, Water, Shadow of the Monarch) as the Sun God, here he’s used in his roles as God of truth and of healing. Rather than driving a celestial chariot, he’s a librarian with a lethal way of keeping his library quiet.
There’s a similar amount of imagination put into several of the film’s sets as well. This is obviously a low-budget film, but creativity allowed the filmmakers to get the most out of the sparsely decorated sets and give them a look that reflects their inhabitant’s character. It also makes good use of abandoned industrial spaces when needed, especially when Hades (Rich Sands, Weaponized, The Red Tide Massacre) is tracked to his lair.
For a film shot on a tight budget, Fighting Olympus does have a goodly number of fights and a few shootouts. The fights are better staged than a lot of what I’ve seen in similarly budgeted films. The scenes involving gun play suffer from the usual CGI blood spray. As long as you’re not expecting anything too fancy, you should be satisfied.
Overall, Fighting Olympus is a fairly unique film, whether you take it as an odd thriller or a fantasy-tinged one. And if you accept it on that level, which I did, it’s the kind of magical realist film that Exceptional Beings tried to be but failed rather badly. It’s worth giving a look, and for those who may have their doubts, it is available free on Tubi and will be on Indie Rights free YouTube Channel at a later date.
Fighting Olympus is available on Digital Platforms via Indie Rights Films. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details. And if you’re not ready to give up the fight, FilmTagger can suggest some titles for further viewing.