Life After Fighting (2024)

Rarely can a movie be sold or recommended entirely on the basis of how amazing its third act is, but such is the case for Bren Foster’s Earth-shattering directorial debut “Life After Fighting”.

The fact that the two acts leading up to the finale are no less gripping or finely tuned just makes “Life After Fighting” that much more of a must see for martial arts fans. And make no mistake, “Life After Fighting” is a monument to martial arts on every level.

From the benefits one can gain from it in daily life to the camaraderie that life among one’s fellow students and teachers on the mat inevitably cultivates – and, in the case of Bren Foster and the stunt team of “Life After Fighting”, the capacity to craft fight sequences of an enthralling caliber, including a finale that belongs in the history books of martial arts movie making!



In addition to writing and directing the film, Bren Foster leads “Life After Fighting” as dedicated martial arts teacher Alex Faulkner, with Cassie Howarth portraying Samantha Hathaway, the mother of one of his newest students, and Luke Ford playing her unstable ex-husband Victor.

Anabella Stephenson plays Alex’s cousin and assistant in his school, Julie Creylan, while Ariel Jean Foster makes her film debut as Julie’s daughter Violet, with Aaliyah Knight playing her fellow student Lainey.

Also making his film debut in “Life After Fighting” is Anthony Nassif as Samantha and Victor’s son Terry, with Eddie Arrazola appearing as Alex’s rival fighter Arrio Gomez, and Mike Duncan and Masa Yamaguchi portraying Victor’s belligerent associates Milan and Ethan.


Retired MMA fighter Alex Faulkner has left his fighting life behind him, devoting himself to passing on his extensive knowledge of martial arts to the students of his school.

Alex’s efforts to focus upon teaching are somewhat hindered by the callouts he continually receives from Arrio Gomez for a comeback fight, due to the ambiguity of whether Alex truly lost or threw his final fight.

Alex also develops a budding romance with Samantha Hathaway after she enrolls her young son Terry in the school, but this also creates friction with her bitter and jealous ex-husband Victor.

As Alex finds himself battling off challengers from Victor’s gang in his own school, the situation takes a dark turn when Violet, the daughter of Alex’s cousin Julie, and another student named Lainey are kidnapped.

With no ransom demands and no leads, Alex, Julie, and Samantha hold onto the hope that the young students will be found, and as the weeks roll on, Alex and Samantha eventually take the search into their own hands to rescue the kidnapped students.


“Life After Fighting” is a Riveting Story of People Trying to Better Themselves

On the surface, “Life After Fighting” references Alex’s career in running a martial arts school after retiring from the MMA world, but it’s also the running theme of the movie.

“Life After Fighting” really puts Alex’s final fight under the microscope in whether his defeat was actually legitimate and how much it motivates Alex to push his students to bring out the best in them.

Right from the first training session of “Life After Fighting”, Alex is driven to instill a philosophy of never quitting into his students, but the movie also takes every chance it can to put Alex in situations where he must practice what he preaches.

Alex Faulkner, at his core, is both a decent man and seasoned warrior who learned the hard way how tapping out too soon can lead to a lifetime of regret. “Life After Fighting” is, in the subtlest of ways, a redemption story for Alex to atone for his greatest regret in his life after fighting.

The supporting characters of “Life After Fighting” are also dealing with their own battles on and off the mat, most especially Samantha in her efforts to escape her failed marriage to the extremely toxic Victor.

Speaking of the devil of “Life After Fighting”, Luke Ford’s performance as Victor is a chilling but fully humanized take on a spurned abusive husband unable to let go of the marriage destroyed by his own hand and becoming a true monster.

While everyone else is seeking to better themselves and their lives in different ways in “Life After Fighting”, Victor’s darker path ends up infecting everyone around him in volatile and ultimately horrendous ways.

The Stress of The Kidnapping Takes its Toll on the Heroes of “Life After Fighting”

“Life After Fighting” also devotes a great deal more attention than most kidnapping-based movies to the toll the kid’s abduction takes upon Alex, Samantha, Julie, and the school.

As the days turn into weeks, a mix of panic, despair, and resignation gradually overtakes each of them as they cling to any sliver of remaining hope that the kids will soon be found while all but accepting what seems to be the inevitable.

Alex is burdened with the unenviable task of trying to put on the calmest face he can for the sake of his school even as he is in complete turmoil on this inside, while Julie comes dangerously close to going over the edge.

In his directorial debut, Bren Foster brings a deeply human and incredibly real pathos to the movie’s child trafficking plot, Alex and co. feeling as powerless to do anything about it as any concerned parent or teacher would.

The despair-filled second act also adds a layer of catharsis to one of the movie’s highlight action scenes when Alex finally agrees to a private match with Arrio Gomez.

Arrio ends up being a far more three-dimensional character than his introduction implies as a result of his motivation for the fight and the genuine sympathy he offers Alex, with Alex accepting the challenge more out of a need to feel something besides hopelessness than an eagerness to get back in the game.

“Life After Fighting” does anything but set aside the emotional dimensions of its story in its fight scenes, which makes them even better for martial arts fans to sink their teeth into. And when it comes to that side of “Life After Fighting”…

The Fight Scenes are Out of this World!

Alex Faulkner might be a retired fighter, but fighting is hardly a past tense activity for him or anyone else in “Life After Fighting”, and thankfully so.

Even something as basic and relatively low stakes as the movie’s training scenes bring an energy and flashiness that’s as enthralling as any fight scene, as Bren Foster’s eye-popping Taekwondo kicks never fail to do, and with that as the baseline of “Life After Fighting”, Bren’s fight choreography REALLY shifts into hyper-drive when the movie transitions into full combat.

Alex and Arrio’s aforementioned private match on its own is worth the ticket or VOD price for “Life After Fighting”. As fight choreographer, Bren also clearly delights in tossing different disciplines in the same MMA blender that Donnie Yen used for “Flash Point”, and it’s an absolute blast to see so many different facets of fighting put to work in the extremely fast and impactful fight sequences of “Life After Fighting”.

“Life After Fighting” also knows how to weigh the stakes and scales of each action scene to their appropriate physical and emotional tonality and intensity. Alex warding off challengers outside the school and inside his classes doesn’t have the same level of life-threatening danger as the kidnapping plot does, but they’re all essential to the story in their own way and hit with their own distinct impact.

Every fight scene in “Life After Fighting” is a bonanza of power, precision, speed, timing, and virtually every individual element of martial arts and fight choreography. And that still doesn’t even touch upon the best part of “Life After Fighting”.

The Last 40 Minutes of “Life After Fighting” are “The Raid in a Martial Arts School”!

Bren Foster clearly comes from the “Save the best for last” school of action filmmaking, and the finale of “Life After Fighting” must be seen to be believed.

Simply put (and avoiding spoilers), Alex’s martial arts school becomes a battleground where he is forced to single-handedly take down a gang of child traffickers in one of the best martial arts movie showdowns of the decade.

Bren clearly had “The Raid” in mind as his template for both the speed, power, and tenor of the finale and the environmental setting Alex has to navigate as he battles his enemies, with “Life After Fighting” flipping the script to the hero being the one to defend his home turf and everyone he loves in it.

There’s almost no description that can truly do justice to the enrapturing ballet of energetic, aggressive, flashy, and absolutely relentless combat that makes up the last third of “Life After Fighting” – other than to say that it is everything martial arts movie lovers crave and then some – all packed into one extended, 40 minute-long gourmet feast.


Draw a name of a revered martial arts movie series out of a hat – be it “Undisputed”, “Never Back Down”, “Ip Man”, “The Raid” or “John Wick” – and “Life After Fighting” deserves to be enshrined right next to them as an absolute powerhouse of action with a gripping story of determination, wisdom, and heroism to go with it.

“Life After Fighting” is hands down the best pure martial arts film thus far in 2024 (and we’ve gotten some seriously great ones this year). The finale of “Life After Fighting” alone is an absolute masterpiece of martial arts moviemaking, and if it’s any indication of where Bren Foster is headed next both as a filmmaker and martial arts star, that’s one journey audiences would be well-advised to buckle up for!

Favorite Quotes

  • “It’s okay to lose to an opponent, but it’s not okay to quit or lose to your fear. Always find a reason to keep going.” – Alex (giving one of his assistant instructor’s words of encouragement after he taps out too early from a choke.)
  • “Because I never beat you. When you lost, or threw, your last fight, you retired. You were the best.” – Arrio Gomez (on why he wants to fight Alex so badly.)
  • “You’re seven years younger than me, Arrio. I haven’t fought in years. I’ve had surgery after surgery. Beating me now won’t mean a thing. But if I beat you, can you live with that?” – Alex (in reply.)


  • Bren Foster holds black belts in Taekwondo, Hwarangdo, Hapkido, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and is also highly skilled in numerous other martial arts disciplines, including Kickboxing, Silat, Muay Thai, and Kali.
  • The scenes in Alex Faulkner’s martial arts school were filmed in Bren Foster’s real-life school, Elite Martial Arts.
  • Luke Ford previously appeared in 2008’s “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” alongside two other martial arts stars, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh.
  • Bren Foster pulled his hamstring during a fight scene, which required the filming sequence of some of the action to be slightly rearranged. Bren also experienced a hip injury near the end of production just before the film entered Christmas break in late 2022. Bren recuperated for about four weeks to allow his hip injury to subside, with production then resuming and “Life After Fighting” being completed.
  • Jaylan Foster and Ariel Jean Foster, who respectively portray Violet and Alex’s assistant instructor Mike, are Bren’s real-life son and daughter, and like their father, are seasoned martial artists themselves.
  • Bren’s wife and fellow martial artist Chelsea Jean Foster also served as co-producer, art director, and costumer for “Life After Fighting”.
  • Masa Yamaguchi holds black belts in Taekwondo and Judo, and is also a Kenjutsu exponent. Some of his credits as stunt man and fight choreographer include “The Wolverine”, “Hacksaw Ridge”, “Ghost in the Shell”, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, “The Spy Who Never Dies”, and “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga”. He’s also appeared in such movies and shows as “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”, “Strike Back”, and Netflix’s “Marco Polo”.
  • Mike Duncan’s stunt credits include 2001’s “Invincible”, “The Matrix Reloaded”, “Superman Returns”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, “Birth of a Warrior”, “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. He’s also appeared in such movies and shows as “The Matrix”, “Pieces of Her”, “The Artful Dodger”, and “Transfusion”.

Film Rating: 10/10

The high-impact martial arts thriller, “Life After Fighting” is playing in selected theaters and is available on VOD platforms around the globe, right now!

Have you seen “Life After Fighting”? What are your thoughts on the movie’s AWESOME martial arts action scenes and super-emotive story? Which other martial arts stars would you love to see Bren Foster join forces with? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

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Brad Curran

From the earliest days of childhood, Brad Curran was utterly fascinated by martial arts, his passion only growing stronger after spending time living in the melting pot of Asian cultures that is Hawaii. His early exposure developed into a lifelong passion and fascination with all forms of martial arts and tremendous passion for action and martial arts films. He would go on to take a number of different martial arts forms, including Shaolin Ch'uan fa, Taekwondo, Shotokan Karate and remains a devoted student, avid and eager to continue his martial arts studies. Brad is also an aspiring writer and deeply desires to share his love for martial arts and martial arts movies with the world!

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