Zac Mason (D.J. Hale) is already at a disadvantage as an undersized football player when a catastrophic leg injury threatens to end the undrafted player's dreams in writer/director Hale's engaging dramatic sports short Lionheart, a 20-minute film weaving together equal parts grit and inspiration to tell the story of this young man and his struggle with whether to continue chasing his dream or accept the reality that his playing days are over.
The film is just kicking off its indie fest circuit with hopes that a successful festival journey will help the film gain enough traction to head toward expansion as a feature film along the lines of a Rudy or Invincible. The film has already picked up prizes for supporting actress Jenna Ross and the original score of Rory Laws in the April/May 2022 edition of the IndieX Film festival and should continue to find a home on the indie and microcinema film festival circuit.
Indeed, it's obvious that Hale is trying to pack an awful lot into this 20-minute short and it would definitely benefit from being a feature-length to give this story some room to breathe. Lionheart pumps up the drama, capturing the hopes and hazards that Zac is dealing with but also the people around him that inspire him to keep going for it despite the unfavorable odds. Hale is definitely pumped and ready for action here, convincingly capturing both the adversity faced by Zac and his fierce determination to overcome it.
Jenna Ross is a major find as Dani and shows quite a bit of promise as a relative newcomer to acting with only a handful of short films to her name. The win by Rory Laws for his emotionally amped original score is well deserved and D.P. David Gordon's lensing is effective throughout.
Lionheart doesn't necessarily tell a story we haven't seen before, however, we'll always keep coming back to films like Lionheart because they inspire us and entertain. That's exactly what happens with this emotionally resonant and compelling sports drama.