Independent films fall into two categories: Low-budget schlock or low-budget wonders. The more successful ones, such as Clerks or The Blair Witch Project end up changing the game. God Loves the Fighter might not change the game, but is definitely going to go 12 rounds and may just win by decision.

Director Damian Marcano has given us a deeply disturbing story told by King Curtis (Lou Lyons), a vagrant on the streets of Port of Spain, who is constantly ignored by passersby, as most vagrants with a lot to say are generally treated. King Curtis introduces the audience to a young man named Charlie (Muhammed Muwakil).

Charlie, a resident living just east of the lighthouse, is attempting to stay on the path of the righteous. But with no job in sight, and surrounded by a violent neighborhood, he finds it harder and harder to say no to opportunities to better his life by resorting to less than saintly acts. A chance of redemption comes when Dinah (Jamie Lee Phillips), a professional streetwalker, comes to him badly in need of help.

Set and filmed in Trinidad, this picture captures both the hope and desperation that the residents of this impoverished country deal with on a daily basis. The storyline is rough but amusing in parts, and the “amateur” look of the film gives off a self-effacing beauty to it. Who is going to survive in the community of east Port of Spain? Who is not going to make it? The performances are compelling enough to get the viewer through some shaky shots and interesting camera angles.

The only thing you might need is subtitles at times as the West Indies accents are akin to Brad Pitt’s Pikey character Mickey in the film Snatch. They can be somewhat intelligible, especially at times of high emotions. But this a small complaint on what is a rather interesting, original and honest film. It points out that everyone can be influenced by crime and the indecency, even those who proclaim to be innocent. God Loves the Fighter combines the comedy/tragedy of a Quentin Tarantino movie with a rare feeling that the film makers have actually been there, in that hyper-violent and desperate atmosphere.

God Loves the Fighter has been out in very limited release for a over a year now, but it is worth tracking down. For fans of films such as Traffic or Reservoir Dogs this will be right up your alley. Don’t be surprised to see Damian Marcano directing another, bigger budget, picture sometime in the near future, as his talents (and those of his cast and crew) do a great job with the limited resources they had. Check out the trailer below if you’re still on the fence. After you see it, you won’t be.