First Match is the story of a tenacious high school girl, Monique, raised in foster homes in Brooklyn’s Brownsville. She accidentally bumps into her father, who has just been released from jail. Mo, as Monique is fondly called, tries to reconnect with him.
Knowing his love for wrestling, Mo decides to join the school’s boys wrestling team, thus trying to prove that she has a talent for the sport. The trick works and Mo connects with her father Dannel. Besides teaching Mo some tricks about the sport, the father-daughter duo also shares some special moments.
In school, Mo establishes that she is a tough nut to crack despite being the only girl in the all-boys team. She is also manages to win matches for the team. With her dedication to the sport, her coach is really impressed with her transition – from being a troublemaker to channeling her energies into wrestling.
As the story progresses Dannel wants Mo to win fights at an underground women wrestling tournament. Though Mo is not convinced, Dannel tells her that from the money that she earns, they can manage to get their own space and finally have a better life.
Despite Omari’s protest (Mo’s good friend), she goes to the underground events and a fight later she comes back to school in bruises. When her coach finds out about her disappearing acts, he confronts her about it and she instead says she has been with her dad and there’s some trouble.
Though everyone advices her not to be so dependent on her dad, Mo believes she can finally have some quality time with him.
The film is high on good fight scenes, emotions and is definitely a slice of life venture.
What’s WOW? For Indian audiences, First Match may give a feel of the Bollywood film Dangal. But First Match is much more than breaking gender biases, it is also about winning over your own emotions and limitations. When a female director helms a project, it shows. And Olivia Newman portrays Mo’s story so well, there’s no frame you can’t feel one with her.
What’s Blah? You are engaged throughout the film, it just doesn’t bore you for you to search for any limitations.
Parting Shot: First Match is the coming of age story of a tough girl, Mo, who finally makes peace with her past, trading it for a better future.
Director: Olivia Newman
Jimmy Gary Jr.
Jharrel A. Jerome
First Match is now streaming on Netflix.
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