17 user 5 critic

American Wrestler: The Wizard (2016)

PG-13 | | Drama, Sport | 16 May 2017 (USA)
1:40 | Trailer

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In 1980, a teenage boy escapes the unrest in Iran only to face more hostility in America, due to the hostage crisis. Determined to fit in, he joins the school's floundering wrestling team.


Alex Ranarivelo


Ali Afshar (story by), Brian Rudnick (story by) | 1 more credit »
10 wins. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
George Kosturos ... Ali Jahani
William Fichtner ... Coach Plyler
Ali Afshar ... Hafez Tabad
Lia Marie Johnson ... Kristi Larsen
Gabriel Basso ... Jimmy Petersen
Jon Voight ... Principal Skinner
Sasha Feldman ... Dan 'Toad' Webster
Chase Mowen Chase Mowen ... Mike Thornhill
Kevin G. Schmidt ... Rowan Knox
Nicholas Guilak ... Pasha
Shannon Collis ... Wendy
Karina Andrews Karina Andrews ... Miss Larsen
Tony Panterra Tony Panterra ... Mr. Jahani
Salome Azizi ... Mrs. Jahani
John Asadi ... Truck Driver


In this inspiring tale based on true events, 17-year-old Ali Jahani is a newcomer to a small California town, where he stands out as different in an unwelcoming community. Living with his embittered uncle, the boy faces a mountain of adversity everywhere he turns. Rejected by everyone but determined to fit in, he joins the school's floundering wrestling team. With a chance to change how others see him, Ali must step up and learn to be a hero. Written by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, some disturbing images, language and thematic material | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Official site




English | Persian | French | Spanish

Release Date:

16 May 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wizard See more »

Filming Locations:

Petaluma, California, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$0, 3 May 2017, Limited Release
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jon Voigt's character shares a name with a character from The Simpsons (1989): Principal Skinner. See more »


At the State tournament, the Cage Fighter logo can be seen on the back of Roman Knox's singlet. Cage Fighter apparel was not available in 1980 as it was not founded until 2007. See more »


Hafez Tabad: I will admit it would be nice to see a Persian boy beat the Americans. In front of their friends and families, THAT is something I would like to see.
See more »


Followed by American Fighter See more »


I Want You To Want Me
Written by Rick Nielson
Performed by Cheap Trick
See more »

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User Reviews

Rare Find -- low budget, indie, feel-good movie that most works
18 May 2017 | by paraduxSee all my reviews

Good acting, great story (based on actual events.) Good casting.

Intends to deliver that "feel good" buzz and mostly succeeds.

And, let us not forget, in this somewhat upside down world there are not enough of these kinds of movies being made.

On the other side of ledger, there are problems here and there with the script and the direction.

Script has what they call "false notes." Initially for example, Ali's uncle is painted as a fairly nasty character -- this for no reason I could discern -- then valuable script time is wasted trying to "rehabilitate" him in the eyes of the audience.


Same with the half-hearted attempt to make this less a sports film and more a social commentary. Also, out of nowhere, literally given less than 60 seconds of screen time, is the notion that the secret of Ali's technique is some sort of lost Perian MMA skill that goes back to Ghenghis Khan. (Caught my interest, would have liked to know more.)


Similar issues with the direction which has "odd beats." If you watch a lot of films, the timing will seem wrong to you on a subliminal level. Too much time, for example, on social issues with minimal time on the actual training. Again, if this is a sports film (and neither the writer or director seem entirely convinced) this could have been handled better.

Recommendation? Yeah, catch it if you can.

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