Last Thursday, Surfer [The Bar] hosted the premiere of Fighting Fear, the true story of Bra Boys Richie Vas and Mark Mathews and the trials and tribulations that led to their respective successes in the ring and lineup. At the only American screening of the film, surfers staying on the North Shore, including Slater, Bruce Irons, Nathan Fletcher, and dozens of others, turned up for the premiere at Turtle Bay. Fresh out of the water from one of the best days on the North Shore this winter, Mathews welcomed everyone to the packed bar and set the stage for what would be his and Vas’ life stories.
Produced by Macario de Souza, the same filmmaker who brought us Bra Boys, the film is more of a biopic than a surf film and finds its greatest success in its production. With their story beginning on the blue-collar streets of Maroubra, Australia, both Mathews and Vas found themselves on a road that they knew would lead to trouble. With surfing as an outlet, the best friends skirted trouble—and jail time—as they came of age in a difficult and dangerous environment. For Mathews, who has become one of the most respected big-wave hellmen today, the storyline centers around getting back into the lineup after suffering a serious spinal injury. With the support of Vas and other friends, Mathews overcame his doubts and soon found himself in surfing’s limelight. For Vas, the fears he faced weren’t just in the ring as an up-and-coming MMA fighter, but in the courtroom where he faced jail time for a street fight outside a bar. After being found not guilty and released, Vas was eventually awarded a shot at a title fight.
Candid about their experiences and what they’ve taken away from their gritty upbringings, both Vas and Mathews realize the hazards that are intrinsic to their lifestyles. Personally, you may not have any interest in charging massive surf or cage fighting, but the storyline, drama, and imagery will likely captivate nonetheless.