Victory is the prize, Pain is the price.
Tom Berenger leads an outstanding cast in this bone-crunching dramatization of legendary college football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's debut at Texas A&M in the summer of 1954. The often unnerving story finds Bryant ducking the school's good ol' boy network of rich, influential alumni by spiriting his new team away to a makeshift training base in a tiny town called Junction. There, Bryant runs the equivalent of a POW camp, brutalizing an oversized, underdeveloped bunch of rowdy young men and tormenting those who seek medical attention for cracked spines and deadly heat exhaustion. Berenger delivers a warts-and-all performance as the vulgar, monstrous, yet much-respected Bryant, and the direction by seasoned television vet Mike Robe is brisk and almost explosively charged. Whatever one thinks of Bryant's punishing methods, the film does not flinch from telling its powerful tale. --Tom Keogh