Like Water (2011)

This documentary feels like some sort of gamble to restore Anderson Silva's credibility after he lost touch with his audience. If you're looking for proof, you don't need to look any further than the Bruce Lee quote from which it lifts the title. In the end, though, he's depicted as a conflicted and uncertain fighter who, for the first time, let his opponent get inside his head. Even if it doesn't end up achieving its PR goals, Like Water beautifully captures a unique rivalry that made its mark in this sport's short history.


Inside the octagon and inside their heads.

[do action=”play-by-play-spoilers”/]

[do action=”moment” emo=”Annoying” title=”You know, he’s kind of timid for a tough guy”/]

This is going to be hard to get through. Coming in, I already wasn’t a big fan of Anderson Silva. But the way he compares himself to greats like Muhammed Ali makes it even more problematic: he has next to no charisma in sit-down interviews, a fact only made worse by his cringey voice.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Interesting” title=”Backwards hero’s journey”/]

Silva’s obnoxious fighting style is on display, where he taunts his opponents, runs around in circle and flees every attack. Everyone and their mothers get on his back because of it, so he’s painted as the champion no one likes, especially in macho America. This is some very interesting narrative.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Quotable” title=”The Chael Sonnen Comedy Hour”/]

Introducing our savior, Chael Sonnen. He’s the prototypical american hero, hating on other cultures and trash-talking like some pro wrestler straight out of the nineties. Here, a funny example: “Brazil isn’t a bowing country. You bow in Brazil they’ll hit you over the head and take your wallet out of your pocket.”

[do action=”moment” emo=”Smart” title=”I can smell sweat from my living room”/]

It seems that each time we see Silva in one of his training sessions, he looks more and more defeated. He looks to be doubting himself a lot more than he should for a fighter of his caliber, and that’s exactly why I like to watch this kind of documentary. In live fights, we never get to witness the battle for sanity.

[do action=”moment” emo=”WTF” title=”Can we teleport stupidity?”/]

Chael Sonnen shines–and I mean that in big, bold letters–when he accuses Silva’s trainer of not knowing teleportation hasn’t been invented. If you think his accusation don’t make sense, wait until you realize Sylva’s trainer doesn’t know what teleportation actually is.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Puzzling” title=”Serious Segal cred”/]

Silva now goes into full-on dick mode. He sandbags his partners to avoid doing a press tour, and chooses to dodge every question journalists ask him at a conference call. He then proceeds to thank Steven Segal for teaching him how to kick. OK, that was sort of amazing, but it makes me wonder… I thought the point of this ego-driven project was to restore Silva’s reputation.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Exciting” title=”FIGHT!”/]

After some more amusing build-up featuring crazy Chael Sonnen, the fight starts with a breathtaking montage. You have got to watch it if you haven’t already. It features Chael doing some ninja rolls, and Silva getting the crap beaten out of him, which is exactly what you want at this point. I’m not going to do play-by-play, but I will tell you twice: go watch it.

[do action=”moment” emo=”Happy” title=”Great, great ending”/]

Spoiler alert for a fight that happened three years ago: Silva wins, but his win feels like a fluke. I’m pretty conflicted by the result, as the movie made him more human, yet utterly unlikable. Nevertheless, it ends with a wonderful song by Explosions in the Sky, almost as good as that Warrior ending to National’s “About today.”

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