Hollywood has kind of given up on the fight movie. Every now and then one slips past the guards and ends up on the big screen, but for the most part you have to dive into the Pacific Rim if you want to find a good, simple action movie that pits one man's fist against another man's face with no CGI malarkey to get in the way. Now there's nothing wrong with Asian fight films - I love me some Tony Jaa and Donnie Yen as much as the next guy - but the patriot in me wishes there were more American-made fight films worth talking about these days.
That's why it brings me enormous pleasure to be able to recommend to fellow fight film fans Undisputed III: Redemption. Now, I know what you're thinking: "But I haven't seen Undisputed one or two!" Doesn't matter. I think we all know that people don't turn to fight films for their understanding of Greek tragedies; they turn to them for the adrenaline rush of seeing badass fights between badass fighters. That's it. And let me tell you, Undisputed III has got some of the best bone-crunching throw downs around.
Directed by Isaac Florentine (Undisputed II, Ninja), Undisputed III: Redemption features Scott Adkins as Uri Boyka, a once-great fighter who now spends his days pushing a broom around the Russian prison in which he is incarcerated. After impressing the prison warden in a fight, Boyka is entered into a secret underground tournament where prison wardens from all over the globe get together to pit their best inmates against one another. Losers go back to their prisons, winners get a hefty cash prize and a free ticket home.
That's it for plot, really, though if you haven't seen Undisputed II, it's worth pointing out that Scott Adkins' Boyka is actually the villain in that film (hence the Redemption subtitle). The villain this time around is a Colombian psychopath named Dolor, played by the effortlessly charismatic Chilean martial artist Marko Zaror (Kiltro, Mirageman, Mandrill). In between Boyka and Dolor stand a number of other world-class martial artists and stuntmen Ilram Choi, Esteban Cueto, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, and Lateef Crowder (who played Baraka in the Mortal Kombat short that took the net by storm yesterday). And while the film clearly benefits from the real world skill of each of its fictitious combatants, what really makes it an extraordinary diamond in the rough is its understanding of how people have seen it all before. If you're going to impress anyone in the year 2010, you can't fake it.
Florentine really gets the difference between actual fighting and movie fighting and that the key to making the latter look convincingly like the former is to let the actors dictate the limits of what can be shown. No quick cuts, no need to sacrifice coverage in order to hide the face of a stuntman being thrown around. Florentine lets the takes go uninterrupted for as long as possible and the result are fights that look shockingly authentic. It's amazing what guys like Adkins and Zaror can do in real life, and Florentine knows this so he simply pulls the cameras back and lets theses beasts do what beasts do.
The trailer below gives a few hints of what Undisputed III has in store, but it's a little too quickly cut together to really sell how professionally well made of a film this is. It's not going to win over any non-fight film fans to the genre, but if you love to see over-the-top characters brought to life by amazing athletes who know how to put on a fantastic show, then I couldn't recommend Undisputed III enough. It's currently available on DVD and Blu-ray, so please do check it out.