Rhonda Rousey: Through My Father’s Eyes is a poignant documentary that pays tribute to a pioneer in the fighting arena. Much of the film is centered around Rousey’s success in making the male-dominated fighting world recognize her talent. But it’s clear that her natural ability, dedication, and spirit transcends her gender. No matter who she faces in the octagon or even in front of the camera, Rousey is a force to be reckoned with.
The film follows Rousey’s career for six years during her rise through the UFC ranks, showing how her strength and spirit opened the door for so many opportunities, not only for herself but her fellow fighters. Unfortunately, the documentary oddly ends shortly after Rousey’s first defeat at the hands of Holly Holm, without addressing how this affected Rousey’s UFC career and later decision to go to the WWE. That is the story really ripe for telling and I wish director Gary Stretch turned his camera’s focus to that arc.
The documentary really excels when it is delving deeper into Rousey’s background and humanizing her, from her quest to win an Olympic medal in jiu jitsu and transition to mixed martial arts to her relationship with her father. Rousey’s adoration for her father is the emotional heart of the film and the most important element when seeking to understand the film’s subject. Stretch seemingly only was able to interview Rousey early on in the filming of the documentary, but interviews with her friends, family, and coaches are important in providing first-hand accounts of Rousey’s commitment to the sport and accomplishments.
An element that didn’t work well was Stretch, who at times made himself too much the focus of the film. Stretch’s odd narration and unnatural cuts to his face during interviews start the film off in a weird, unsettling manner. And his unwelcome narration continues throughout the film. Additionally, there were some statements from interview subjects that should have been left on the cutting room floor. There were too many observations about Rousey’s appearance and one interview subject referred to her more as a man when she was in the ring than a woman. It’s clear that Rousey is a beautiful woman both inside and out, but all of these comments worked against the documentary’s genuine attempt to recognize Rousey as a champion for women in her field.
Overall, the documentary is a fitting tribute to a woman who has accomplished so much and still has so much more to do, whether in the WWE wrestling ring, Hollywood, or her charity work. Despite the hardships life may have to throw at her, the tireless Ronda Rousey is not going down for the count.