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'Triumph': Movie Review

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TRIUMPH is an inspiring sports drama about a high school senior with a case of cerebral palsy affecting his left arm and leg who wants to become a respected member of his school’s wrestling team. TRIUMPH tells a stirring, morally uplifting story about perseverance, hard work, kindness, and sacrifice, with excellent performances and a reference to only God knowing what the future holds, but it’s marred by some obscenities and Romantic, humanist philosophy, so caution is advised.

Inspired by the screenwriter, Michael D. Coffey’s, true story, the movie opens in 1975 with an 8-year-old boy with cerebral palsy named Mike Conley competing in a wrestling match. Mike’s cerebral palsy affects his left arm and leg, and his speech. However, he has lots of spirit and determination. Sadly, though, he breaks his collar bone during the match, and his father rushes Mike the hospital.

Ten years later, Mike has transferred from a high school in Kansas to a Texas high school called Hillsboro. At first, the counselors think Mike’s disability affects his mental abilities. They try putting him into special ed, but Mike goes to the principal and convinces him he can do the work.

As a senior, Mike gets a choice of physical education classes, and he picks weightlifting because he wants to try out for the wrestling team. Before classes start, he goes to the weight room to practice and meets Jeff, the varsity team’s best wrestler. Mike helps Jeff out when he has trouble lifting a standard, long barbell off his chest, and the two become fast friends.

The coach has doubts about Mike’s ability to join the wrestling team. So, he challenges Mike to do three difficult leg pushes against some heavy weights. Mike struggles at first, but he has strong legs and surprises the coach by completing the exercise. However, when Mike tries out for the wrestling team, he loses a practice match to one boy, Troy, who’s been bullying and teasing Mike about his disability. So, Mile fails to make the team.

The coach has grown to admire and respect Mike, however. He offers Mike to join the team has a student manager, to help the coach demonstrate wrestling maneuvers and holds and make sure the team has enough supplies. Mike is reluctant at first, but he agrees.

Unexpectedly, Mike gets a chance to wrestle one boy from another high school when a team member doesn’t show up for the match. The other boy easily defeats Mike, but Mike keeps practicing. His father, however, warns Mike that, if he doesn’t keep his grades high, that’s the end of wrestling. Mike gets help from his friend, Jeff, though, who needs a wrestling scholarship in order to go to college.

One day, Mike and Jeff are training to keep fit. While climbing two ropes, Jeff falls and suffers trauma to his back and neck. Mike, however, won’t let Jeff quit, and he starts helping Jeff with his physical therapy. Meanwhile, Mike gets more opportunities to wrestle, but he keeps losing his matches.

Can Mike keep up his grades? Will Mike ever win a match? Will his friend, Jeff, regain full use of his legs? Will Mike win the heart of the girl he likes? The rest of the movie answers those questions.

TRIUMPH tells a stirring, heartfelt, morally uplifting story about perseverance, hard work, kindness, and sacrifice. RJ Mitte, who played Walter White’s disabled son on BREAKING BAD, does a great job as Mike, as do the other young actors. Also, Terrence Howard delivers his usual standout performance as the wrestling coach. TRIUMPH is an inspiring, entertaining gem that most viewers probably will enjoy.

TRIUMPH has a strong moral worldview, with some redemptive content. There’s also a positive reference to only God knowing the future. This positive content is marred, however, by some Romantic, humanist elements promoting following your heart and self-determination. TRIUMPH also has some obscenities. Because of that, and the Romantic, humanist elements and comments, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.

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About The Author

MOVIEGUIDE® was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ted Baehr, past president of the Episcopal Radio & Television Foundation and former director of the Television Center at the City University of New York. MOVIEGUIDE® is affiliated with the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry (CFTVC). Both MOVIEGUIDE® and CFTVC are dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists and by informing and educating the public about the influence of the entertainment media and about how to train their families to become