Review: Champion

It’s very visceral, and very real, but my personal taste calls for something better-lit.

DVD cover of Champion, queer porn directed by Shine Louise Houston

Go ahead, tar and feather me… I didn’t love Champion.

It pains me not to fall head-over-heels in love with this movie, because I’m really happy that queer porn like Champion even exists. This film is very visceral, very real, and very different from the majority of porn. However, I can’t edit my personal taste, and my personal taste calls for something better-lit, something more… I don’t want to say “mainstream,” because then I sound like a tool. But maybe “mainstream” is what I mean…

Some aspects of Champion are awesome and spot-on. The score, for one — sporadic, lone tribal drum beats that add drama without muddying up the audio. The narrative. The fighting. Jiz Lee‘s hairy legs and armpits. All the stars; they’re all sexy as hell, especially Dallas and Javier. At times, the chemistry between performers is intense and palpable.

But there are a few things that, taken together, really lowered my level of horniness while watching. Lack of communication during sex and barely any dirty talk. Not nearly enough pussy shots (Yes, I like to see close-up shots of vulvas; it’s one of the things I love most about porn. And Champion, in striving for realism, shies away from such camera angles.). And most importantly, bad lighting and grainy video.

The more I watched Champion, the more I felt like pouting about how unfair the lighting is. I understand that it’s supposed to set a mood, but it just really bugs me. It especially bugged me when I watched the Behind the Scenes segment and saw just how well-lit things could’ve been. Here is a particularly stark example:

Scene 3 vs. Behind the Scenes
Scene 3 vs. Behind the Scenes

Sad. Just sad. My guess is that the main movie was shot on film, while the Behind the Scenes was shot on digital. Still, that’s no excuse for things to be this dark.

But there was something that bothered me about the action, too. Syd‘s character, Jessie, has issues connecting with the people she fucks, which means that in the first two of her scenes (one with fling Madison Young, another with ex-lover Jiz Lee) she, despite her vehement passion for fucking and getting ladies off, seems distant. In the Madison Young scene, especially, Syd tears Madison apart, scratching and slapping her intensely, making Madison scream — but Madison never reciprocates, because Jessie doesn’t want her to. This unevenness is part of the reason I didn’t care for these scenes.


There is also a super high-frequency hum on the audio track for Syd and Jiz’s scene. I didn’t notice it at first, but my boyfriend noticed it immediately and said, “that would annoy me” — especially because a sound like that is so easy to filter out with EQ. It’s similar to the high-frequency hum that a TV emits.

The third scene, between Dylan Ryan and trans man Javier, is by far the hottest. They fuck in the back of a pimped-out car, which would be even hotter if not for the extreme amount of shadows and darkness. Javier fucks Dylan with a strap-on and fingers her with a gloved hand, making her squirt multiple times. Then Dylan bends Javier over and fucks him. The chemistry and dirty talk between them, coupled with the above-average number of pussy shots, made this easily my favorite scene in Champion.


But the last scene, in which Syd’s character is finally able to connect with Dallas’s, feels too tender and long-winded. It has its moments of hotness (as all the scenes do), but there was certainly nothing extraordinary about it. I was disappointed, because Dallas is really hot.


I watched Champion twice, and I had to remind myself to watch it the second time, because I was not craving it at all. The only scene I will come back to, ever, is the one between Javier and Dylan Ryan. Other than that, I will not be watching Champion again. Sad but true.

So is it that I wanted Champion to be slightly more mainstream? I suppose so. For some reason, it seems like less mainstream movies gravitate toward shadowy and dark lighting, and I do not enjoy that. And then there’s the lack of pussy shots. I want/need gratuitous shots of vulvas! “Mainstream” may not be quite the right word (I don’t want it to be, to be honest), but whatever the word, I would need Champion to be different in a couple significant ways before it could really turn me on.

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