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Bartkowiak 2021 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Bartkowiak (Netflix) pits an MMA fighter who got a raw deal in the octagon against the shady corporate power brokers who want to steal his family’s nightclub by any means necessary. This fighter with two fists and a heart of gold will have to get in the ring one more time, but there’s no referee, and even the bell is rigged against him. Luckily, pain don’t hurt…
Tomek Bartkowiak (Jozef Pawlowski) is an MMA fighter with a devastating right jab and a decent shot at taking it to the next level. With his coach Pawel (Szymon Bobrowski) in his corner and his brother Wiktor cheering him on, Tomek is about to TKO the tattooed, scarred Repec (Damian Majewski) when somebody slips him a mickey. Bartkowiak is beaten senseless, disgraced as a doper, and his coach loses the hefty chunk of change he bet on his boy. Tomek retreats to a cabin in the mountainous Zakopane region to lick his wounds, and that’s where Wiktor appears with an offer to join him in running Ring, their family-owned Warsaw nightclub. But before the noble fighter can even consider his brother’s offer, Wiktor is killed in a brutal high speed collision, and Tomek finds himself running Ring in his absence.
Tomek’s expulsion from the fight world, his brother’s untimely death, Pawel’s financial ruin and resulting drinking problem, and the mysterious offers Tomek receives to purchase Ring: it’s all connected to a shady conglomerate’s efforts to build a glittering office tower on the section of Old Warsaw where the club and many mom-and-pop businesses happen to exist. Tomek and his girlfriend Dominika (Zofia Domalik) — she’s Coach Pawel’s daughter, and also works at City Hall — Tomek decides to face down the nefarious forces leaning on the local businesses, and hopefully discover who killed his brother. A few knocked heads later, and the trouble leads right to the sinister Kolodziejczyk (Bartlomiej Topa), who is also the uncle of Repec, the tatted-up fighter. More trouble awaits our hero and his small cohort, but nobody as noble as Tomek Bartkowiak is gonna go down with just one punch.
Bartkowiak opens with a pretty solid fight sequence, tracking Tomek and Repec as they square off in the octagon, throwing jabs, flying kicks, and aggressive wrestling holds at each other in a quest for dominance. And later on, once the shit has completely hit the fan and Kolodziejczyk is no longer playing games, he sends goons with baseball bats to bust up the club, only they’re met by the bullheaded Pawel, who got sober just in time to crack five guys’ skulls. Throw in the inevitable rematch between Tomek and Repec, and Bartkowiak has its share of bruising. The thing is, there isn’t enough fisticuffs for this outing from Polish director Daniel Markowicz for Bartkowiak to satisfy a genre audience, and the plotting that takes the place of more fighting is standard issue at best.
What Bartkowiak does have going for it is solid performances across the board. As Tomek, Jozef Pawlowski is measured and kind. But he won’t be taken advantage of, and after a warning he’ll unleash a flurry of punches into your midsection. As Coach Pawel, Szymon Bobrowski is part bear, part drunk, and part comic relief — Bobrowski plays up how much Pawel wavers between his washed up present and successful, powerfully-built past. Whether it’s booze or cauliflower ear that has this guy punch drunk is part of the fun of watching him work. Bartlomiej Topa oozes menace as Kolodziejczyk, and when it’s his turn for the scenery-chewing reckoning you always knew was coming, Topa savors the moment, spitting out grandiosities about Samurai warriors as he chops at the air with a spear. Bartkowiak is never much more than skin deep. But its actors know how to throw a punch.