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  • As soon as I saw the poster for this one, I knew I was going to like it.

    I am a bit of a sucker for a feel good sport movie, especially when they are based on true events like this one is.

    You can not go wrong with Jon Voight and William Fichtner as far as I am concerned, they very rarely do a bad movie and they do not disappoint here. George Kosturos as Ali is excellent and Ali Afshar as his uncle Hafez hits all the right notes.

    I am old enough to remember the 1980 hostage saga and Ronald Reagan being elected President, so it brings back a lot of memories.

    Very much worth watching and one I will be watching again, a suggestion for some would be to have the tissues handy.

    Very solid 8/10
  • Good acting, great story (based on actual events.) Good casting.

    Intends to deliver that "feel good" buzz and mostly succeeds.

    And, let us not forget, in this somewhat upside down world there are not enough of these kinds of movies being made.

    On the other side of ledger, there are problems here and there with the script and the direction.

    Script has what they call "false notes." Initially for example, Ali's uncle is painted as a fairly nasty character -- this for no reason I could discern -- then valuable script time is wasted trying to "rehabilitate" him in the eyes of the audience.


    Same with the half-hearted attempt to make this less a sports film and more a social commentary. Also, out of nowhere, literally given less than 60 seconds of screen time, is the notion that the secret of Ali's technique is some sort of lost Perian MMA skill that goes back to Ghenghis Khan. (Caught my interest, would have liked to know more.)


    Similar issues with the direction which has "odd beats." If you watch a lot of films, the timing will seem wrong to you on a subliminal level. Too much time, for example, on social issues with minimal time on the actual training. Again, if this is a sports film (and neither the writer or director seem entirely convinced) this could have been handled better.

    Recommendation? Yeah, catch it if you can.
  • There are some reviews really ripping on the details on the film, and it is definitely a little formulaic. But it's got a very good cast, some good performances, a good soundtrack, and it overall an enjoyable movie. Some of the elements they try to incorporate to make it a little different than other sports films night not all work, but for a small film that I would guess didn't have a huge budget I think they did a very good job.
  • As a former high school wrestler in a small town this movie really resonates with me. Also very well written and believable for that period of time. If you like an underdog story and you like wrestling this movie is a 10/10 for you! Full of emotion, and good tense good old fashion high school themed beat downs. Its not that corny in the movie, but its really believable and great action and drama as well.
  • kz917-13 November 2017
    The true story of a boy who escapes Iran to live with his uncle in California. Facing strife at home, school, and the community at large as the Iran hostage crisis was happening at the time; the young man attempts to fit in by joining a sports team. Eventually he lands on the wrestling team. Equal parts heartwarming and gut wrenching this movie is not to be missed. Worth the rental. Two thumbs up!
  • Wonderful root-for-the-underdog movie. George Kosturos' portrayal of Ali was superior--the entire cast exceptional. The movie is about a newly-arrived teenage immigrant who becomes the brunt of prejudice in the time of the Iranian hostage crisis. It is a touching and inspirational sports story showing that tenacity and strength of character win out over adversity. I cried more than once and left the theater feeling inspired. Good for kids and adults.
  • I have found this movie by accidental click on IMDb and decided to watch it without waiting. I am wrestler too and I am always very interested how actors will handle wrestler roles and how wrestling feeling will be represented in the movie. I was not expecting a lot from this movie and in the end I was not disappointed.

    Movie is based on true events and that is definitely a plus, since I can also learn something about events I am not familiar with. There are a lot of serious topics, like descrimination, bullying in school, relationships between generations and of course, wrestling. Competitions and training are shown quite realistic. There was only 1 moment in whole movie, when Ali's uncle shows one of the basic moves and wrestlers look at him like they have learned something new, but I believe It was made just to keep things more simple.

    In the end It's a well made movie which is not exceptional, but I definitely can recommend it even if you're not a sport lover.
  • American Wrestler: The Wizard is based on the true story of Ali Afshar, a teenage boy who escapes the unrest in Iran in 1980. However, he faces more hostility in America due to the hostage crisis. Determined to fit in, he joins the school's failing wrestling team.

    American Wrestler: The Wizard has a great vibe to it. Because the film is based in 1980, the clothing, the mise-en-scene, and soundtrack made this movie feel like a classic 80's film. The underdog story of a scrawny kid with an inner fire who defies all odds and becomes a wrestling "wizard," places itself against other classics such as Karate Kid or even Rocky as the film is also about an immigrant outcast who's doubted in skills solely due to where he comes from.

    American Wrestler: The Wizard is an inspiring film that will make you smile, laugh, and cry. The film's lead actor George Kosturos did a fantastic job portraying Ali Afshar as he went through the trials and tribulations of being Iranian in America during the 1980 hostage crisis.

    One truly spectacular part of the film was the wrestling. George Kosturos had no experience in wrestling before this film. Yet he learned and performed all his own stunts. The wrestling holds, escapes, and moves were incredible, you couldn't look away. The wrestling scenes in American Wrestler: The Wizard were so intense that everyone in the audience was squirming in their seats, the cinematography truly puts you in the heat of the moment.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In 1980 the Iran hostage crisis fueled a diplomatic divide between the United States and Iran that wreaked havoc on millions of innocent people's lives. After the notorious incident, many who had lived in the United States peacefully for a long time began to face hostility simply because of their affiliation to Iran. The region that was once known as Persia used to be a solid American ally.

    "American Wrestler" begins in 1980 with brutal scenes from the Iran- Iraq war which cost millions of lives on both sides. The United States armed Iraq during this war. Forced into a corner, the Iran revolutionary guard and Ayatollah began to conscript child soldiers into their ranks to fight against Saddam Hussein. During this time, a desperate family smuggles their 17 year old youngest son, a seemingly docile boy named Ali Jahani, out of Iran to an uncle who happens to be residing in a small town in California.

    The relative is reluctant to take in Jahani as he is facing his own problems with America's hostility towards people of Iranian descent. He loses his business and faces harassment on a regular basis because of his ethnicity. Ali faces similar hostility in high school. After being ostracized and bullied, Ali decides that he needs to join the school's wrestling team to make friends. Ali immediately becomes a rising star in the team. His uncle considers wrestling as an opportunity for revenge for the mistreatment of Iranian people in America. The uncle is convinced that if his nephew Ali can win against Americans in California, then together they can convince people that Iranians deserve to be treated with equality. Ali and his uncle begin to train together intensely and a strong bond eventually forms.

    During one of the training sessions, Ali asks his uncle why he isn't counting his exercise reps. The uncle casually replies by saying, "… What, are you Lebanese? You want to drive a Mercedes while your children starve? Now you want others to think you are strong when you know you are weak. Count for yourself. Cheat if you don't care to win". Ali takes such lessons to heart. But after an unseen accident disqualifies him for his final wrestling championship match, Ali has to recruit the help of his new American friends to eventually go on to become a champion. The film ends on a positive not and even shows scenes of the real-life Ali wrestling in his prime. "American Wrestler: The Wizard" could have come up with a more cohesive title. But the film is touching in a good way and is worth a watch.
  • American Wrestler is yet another underdog sports movie, based on a true story. Ali Jahani escapes from Iran during the Iranian revolution and comes to a hostile USA, as racism against Iranians is rising due to the hostage crisis. Fitting in at a new school is difficult, he tries out for a team to fit in, sticks at wrestling and starts winning, gaining respect and being accepted.

    So, what makes this one worth watching? The lead performance by George Kosturos is extremely strong, portraying the different emotions Ali is feeling as he's making his way through. Jon Voight and William Fichtner also bring their characters to life and mostly well rounded.

    The script is also a strength for the most part. While there are some cringeworthy scenes (the school bully is overdone), in general the script keeps moving and is engaging.

    As noted, however, there are some down sides in some of the side characters, and in how believable some of the events are. The movie is clearly based on a true story, not a true story in itself.

    It's not a movie that has to be witnessed, but it shouldn't be ignored either.
  • In 1980, Ali Jahani escapes Iran and the draft for the Iraq War. He arrives in a small California town to live with his uncle Hafez Tabad. The Iranian hostage crisis is everywhere. Hafez is bitter as anti-Iranian sentiment has dried up his mechanics business. Ali gets bullied in school. He is taken with the popular athletes' school jackets and tries out for every sport. Wrestling Coach Plyler (William Fichtner) reluctantly accepts the newcomer despite Principal Skinner (Jon Voight)'s objections.

    The story is a rather standard movie despite its true story origins. It checks off almost every standard trope. I don't mind that but it doesn't add up to something great. It needs more. It needs a more charismatic lead. The boy is fine but unspectacular. The movie is the same. Outside of their Iranian background, there is nothing that special.
  • tnsmile31 March 2019
    This is an inspirational film and I am glad that I watched it. I will ask my kids to watch it, for several reasons not to go into on imdb - but it is well done for a movie of its type. A good showing from the characters and a "real" story. I liked it.
  • I thought it was going to suck but no, oh no, it was very good...

    I would highly recommend it, the tale unfolded very nicely...

    The characters were rich and full especially withing the stringent strictures of film , somehow they felt very 3-D...

    The ending was very nice... it just worked...
  • aramkx12 January 2019
    Nice movie despite many clichees. Easy to watch, enjoyable from beginning to end and lots of emotions.
  • I absolutely love anything about history. This movie is based on a true story. And has a history lesson imbedded with it. I was so excited for Ali, as well as saddened. Very touching, heart warming story. But where is the sequel I saw mentioned? "American wrestler. The Fighter". Can't find anything about it other than a few casting calls for extras. Was it ever made? Hope so.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I don't think they missed a single cliché from this genre of high school sport as a coming of age drama. They checked all the boxes. I won't list them all here because of space limitations on IMDb. √ -Coach with issues of his own √ -Parent/guardian with issues √ -Love interest √ -Foe to overcome √ -Someone dies

    Think of Vision Quest but not nearly as charming or original and then make most of the Americans into racist maniacs. In this case the Shute character is a white supremacist—just a bit much for a high school wrestling movie. They also went a bit overboard with the dramatic music at times. Guys, this isn't Saving Private Ryan; it's a wrestling tournament, we're not fighting the Nazis.

    It's a little like Hoosiers (and other movies) with the drunk / retarded / criminal / (and in this case) Iranian guy getting the nod to work as assistant coach and then having to ruin the show.

    "Eewww." "She was all like, what are you? Jealous much." I hate to be too nit-picky but kids didn't say these things in 1980.

    The always-great Jon Voight plays the principal. They even get his name wrong unless they were being hugely ironic: Principal Skinner, Seymour Skinner. OK, they don't give his first name but I think that The Simpsons has the rights to the name Principal Skinner. The principal was also way too severe on the kid for fighting and it just seemed to lack credibility.

    The hippie bully kid was about 25 when this was filmed—a bit long in the tooth to be playing a high school kid.

    As if there weren't already enough cornball drama moments in this thing the uncle gets pasted. They should have played that Benny Hill music. Did we really need to see it? Was it a homicide? It looked like a hate crime.
  • About the language using in this movie . its not Arabic it is Farsi or Paarsi . Persian or Iranian language but not Arabian or Arabic