Review of Crooked Arrows

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A Native American lacrosse team makes its way through a prep school league tournament in this 2012 film.
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Movie Review: "Crooked Arrows" --

Rating: PG-13 (some suggestive references)
Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Directed by: Steve Rash
Genre: Drama / Sport
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

A good underdog story can lift spirits and inspire audiences. "Crooked Arrows" accomplishes both of these tasks nicely. The film tells the story of a Native American lacrosse team on its journey to win a national championship. While the premise may be familiar, the film handles the subject matter in an engaging and thoughtful manner. Hailed as the first mainstream lacrosse film, "Crooked Arrows" offers something audiences haven't seen before.

The film opens in the woods more than 800 years ago. Native American tribe members run through the forest carrying small nets. They hide behind trees and jump in the river to score a goal. The team members are brave, and the sport is brutal. The movie quickly reveals that lacrosse was created by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago. This bit of trivia comes as a surprise and immediately makes the film an interesting and educational experience.

Fast forward to modern times, and the youths at a Sunnaquot reservation play the sport with poorly maintained equipment. The team members struggle to play the game invented by their ancestors. Their spirits are broken, and they need help.

Joe Logan is a young chief who has lost his way. He runs a local casino and exploits his Indian heritage to make a living. This doesn't sit well with his father who happens to be tribal leader. Joe wants his father and the elders to approve the expansion of the casino. His father agrees, with one condition. He sends young Joe on a spirit quest. It turns out that the lost soul had been a champion lacrosse player in his prep school days. Joe is given the task of coaching the reservation's troubled team.

Joe accepts the offer and begins coaching the players. What happens next is somewhat predictable, but the movie doesn't lose its luster. Joe's journey is heartwarming and inspirational. He molds his team into a group of warriors who would make his ancestors proud. He learns to love the sport that once brought him joy.

Brandon Routh plays Joe Logan with the perfect amount of charm and heart. His natural delivery style makes him completely believable in this role. Best known for playing Superman, Routh has good looks, a great body and an incredible smile. He is also a talented actor. He has the rare ability to tell a story with his eyes. The piercing looks he gives the camera draw the audience in and reveal his character's depth. Routh is a joy to watch in this film.

Crystal Allen plays Joe's love interest, Julie. The two had a relationship in high school but lost touch. Years later, she is the only teacher on the reservation. The chemistry between Allen and Routh is apparent from their very first scene together. She has just the right combination of guts, brains and beauty to win his heart. Allen is perfectly cast in this role.

Joe's father is played by Gil Birmingham from the "Twilight" films. Birmingham plays Ben, who is the quintessential Indian chief. He is wise and thoughtful, and he knows the ways of his ancestors. He imparts the wisdom of his people to his son and guides him on the path to redemption. Birmingham's calm and authoritative delivery add extra credibility to his character. He is a memorable addition to this film.

A film featuring Native Americans and spiritual journeys would not be complete without a tribal elder. Dennis Ambriz plays the part perfectly. His inspirational words remind the players of the sport's Indian roots. He urges them to play with heart and gives each player a hand-carved stick to use in the championship game. Moments like this make the movie truly special. Ambriz is to "Crooked Arrows" what Pat Morita was to "Karate Kid." His performance enriches the film and gives it an authentic Native American flair.

This is a movie about rooting for the underdog, but it is also a film about heart, courage and spirit. All of the elements come together in just the right way, making this movie a special treat. The lacrosse scenes are dynamic, and audience members may find a new sport to love. The characters are believable, and the acting is solid. This is a film for the entire family. Even those who have seen many sports dramas will find something new in this film. "Crooked Arrows" is a charming movie that will have audience members cheering.