Rolling Stone said the movie "pulls no punches." The Miami Herald called it a "knockout." Former New Times staff writer Frank Alvarado, who wrote the 2008 feature story that inspired the film, said it was "worth the wait."
But in the few weeks since Dawg Fight, Rakontur's documentary about backyard brawling and community struggle in impoverished Perrine, has shot to fame on Netflix, how has life changed for Dhafir Harris, the movie's star?
For one, he now gets recognized — a lot. "Wherever I go," says Harris, better known as Dada 5000, "like I'm down in the Dolphin Mall just now... the line starts forming."
Harris estimatess 80 people must have taken his picture while he was shopping. His fight promoter is thrilled with all the attention. "This movie is number one in the world on Netflix right now," he says. "I really feel like it's going to make its way ultimately to every home in America, because it's real."
But Harris hopes the Netflix success will also help him achieve his business ambitions, which have been hampered since Miami-Dade Police began cracking down on the backyard-fight scene.
Harris lately has been working to organize fights in more mainstream locations. After a plan fell through to host an event aboard the Bimini SuperFast cruise ship en route to the Bahamas, last week Harris pulled together a night of fighting on a South Florida Indian reservation.
It was a small venue, Harris says, attended by maybe 60 people, but the real focus was filming the 11 short fights to release them on pay-per-view, where viewers can buy access for $9.99.
He and his production team were actually late to the event because earlier that day, Harris' father had passed away after battling a long illness. Harris had spent much of the afternoon in the hospital. He says he told his father he forgave him for not being there when he was younger.
"We're going to be all right," the charismatic fight organizer reassured his dad. "Everything's going to be good.
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"He took one deep breath and closed his eyes and died," Harris recalls.
Harris says that, overall, he's optimistic about his prospects of taking backyard fighting to the mainstream. Since footage of last week's fights were posted online, he says, 2,000 to 3,000 people have been ordering the content per day. That's not Netflix numbers, but it's enough to convince Harris there's an appetite for his style of fighting.
He's planning another event for August, with the location still to be determined. "[Wherever] it is, it's going to be open," he says. "We're not hiding anything."