Sunday, 30 September 2012


This is an unusual series of films. Started out as a solid Walter Hill film  starring Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames that was dumped by its studio. Then it went the direct to DVD route. And the series got better.

Undisputed 2 & 3 are two of the best low budget genre movies made for quite a while. Sure there’s some cheese involved but who cares. These are melodramas about men beating each other up (but none of them are gay, honest.) Both of these films were directed by Issac Florentine and heavily featured Scott Adkins as Boyka, a mad Russian with a shaved head and a goatee. A mean brutal character, Boyka s one of the best pulp creations in recent years.

Okay the basic plots. Part 1 has Ving Rhames as a boxer who gets thrown in jail as a rapist. (Not a sympathetic character). He thinks he’s the greatest and has to fight the prison champion, a lifer played by Wesley Snipes. He gets beaten. The end. It’s a fun b-movie, one of Snipes best performances. Rhames character is truly obnoxious. You are glad to see him fail. It’s wonderfully understated, cynical but respects the Snipes character, who is trying to survive with dignity in hell.

Part 2 has the same boxer played by a different actor (now Michael Jai White) who gets sent into prison again (for drug possession), this time in Russia. To get out alive, he has to defeat Boyka. He manages to win, finally. He manages not to be a dick this time. This one is much grimmer, with a cold Russian background and a great villain in Boyka, who is a monster, the king of the prison, but who wants to fight the dumb American fairly, prove he’s the best as a warrior. It’s a remake of the first but is an improvement on a great base. It embraces its own melodramatic excess in characterisation, makes the sport kick-boxing rather than boxing, and just goes for it on every level. This is one of the best sequels around, which can cost you about a pound on Amazon. So there’s no excuse for not buying it (save the main character is still a bit of a dick).

Part 3 is the perfect low-budget genre film, improves the second film by making Boyka the lead. Now crippled from the fight at the end of part 2, ignored by all, Bokya improves his mind and body, regaining his championship inside his own prison by brutally destroying the best of who emerged after his injury. Next he gets himself into an inter-prison kick-boxing championship run by gangsters from all over the world. Basically each fight is one style against another. It has a decent story, of a man building himself up, planning his escape when he is being continually beaten on by his enemies, destroying some terrific combatants in brutal fight after fight. It’s both a tough redemption of a total bastard through survival story and an excessive fight movie. Like Part 1 with Snipes, have a worthy protagonist really sells the film.

Undisputed is one of the great low budget film series, with no weak chapters. It’s definitely worth about five hours of your time, and some rewatches.

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