The Fencer (Miekkailija)

Critics Consensus

The Fencer's inspirational coming-of-age arc is given added heft through sensitive direction, affecting performances, and a moving, fact-based story.



Total Count: 52


Audience Score

User Ratings: 920
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Movie Info

A young man, Endel Nelis, arrives in Haapsalu, Estonia, in the early 1950s. Having left Leningrad to escape the secret police, he finds work as a teacher and founds a sports club for his students. Endel becomes a father figure to his students and starts teaching them his great passion - fencing, which causes a conflict with the school's principal. Envious, the principal starts investigating Endel's background... Endel learns to love the children and looks after them; most are orphans as a result of the Russian occupation. Fencing becomes a form of self-expression for the children and Endel becomes a role model. The children want to participate in a national fencing tournament in Leningrad, and Endel must make a choice: risk everything to take the children to Leningrad or put his safety first and disappoint them.

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Critic Reviews for The Fencer (Miekkailija)

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (44) | Rotten (8)

  • It's surprising how polite and restrained everything is. However, that doesn't mean you won't be wiping your eyes as the credits start to roll.

    Aug 31, 2017 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Basically a "Hoosiers" remake ... but that's OK. It's a winner here, too.

    Aug 23, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • An effective mix of underdog sports drama and political thriller, inspired by the true-life story of celebrated fencing champ Endel Nelis.

    Aug 17, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Not awful, just uninspired.

    Aug 11, 2017 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • Though the camera follows Endel closely, we never really get inside his head - or explore the fear, regret and uncertainty that must plague him.

    Aug 10, 2017 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The sincerity with which the clichés get served up, and so on, make a relatively smooth viewing experience. But they also render what would have been an at times harrowing real-life story into something safe and bland.

    Jul 21, 2017 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

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