This is the sort of movie that I usually glance at and keep on going. It is a direct to video sequel, to a direct to video sequel, to a Wesley Snipes film that I do not even remember being in theaters back in 2002. It is the kind of movie that looks inviting and action-packed, but generally ends up being dull and disappointing. However, here I am, Blu-ray in hand, prepared to give it a shot and hoping for the best. Why? Well, I stumbled across a tweet commenting on the spectacular fight sequences and, for some reason, that proved to be more than enough to get me on board.
I read up a little bit on the series, not too much mind you, but I felt a little back story was in order. The original film centered on a boxing champion (Ving Rhames) falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to prison. There he is put into a prison fighting tournament where he must face off with prison champ, Wesley Snipes. Rhames as George Chambers comes out on top. This leads to Michael Jai White taking over the Chambers role and getting sent to another prison where he is forced to fight again. This time his main opponent is Yuri Boyka, played by Scott Adkins. I do not know the outcome of this fight, but the star of this third film is Scott Adkins reprising his role as Yuri Boyka (from villain to hero).
So here we are, Undisputed III: Redemption. I gather the title of this story focuses on Boyka redeeming himself for being the villain of the second film. The story is pretty simple, and whatever redemption is to be had is merely lip service to get us to the fight scenes. I'm all right with that; there are times when I can do with a light story in favor of some action.
Seriously, the story is pretty generic. Prisoners are selected for their fighting skills and are sponsored by businessmen. The businessmen make all the money and the winning fighter gains his freedom. Our cast includes the businessman named Gaga (Mark Ivanir), who has made a lot of money off Boyka (Adkins), as our premier fighter, Turbo (Mykel Shannon Jenkins), an American boxer friend/adversary, and Dolor (Marko Zaror), a Colombian tough guy and the chosen one to win the tournament.
Boyka is nursing a bad knee resulting from the fights in the prior film, but he is our hero and, seeing how "well" the guards treat the prisoners, it is relatively easy to side with the inmates. In any case, the set up has 8 fighters transferred to a prison in the Georgia (no, not the state). Here they are forced to perform manual labor and train as they get ready for the tournament. Boyka is paired off with Turbo, a cocky boxer who doesn't know how to shut up.
While the story is generic and predictable, it is told with energy and feels somewhat fresh, which is credit to director Isaac Florentine for making the characters interesting and keeping the pace moving. Now, when you move past the story, and by now most of you already have moved on, this movie is about the fights.
I will not lay out the fights for you, nor will I give you the winners. What I will say is that if MMA fighting looked like this, you would be able to count me among the fans. The fighting is stylized, nicely choreographed, and not quite how I would expect a real fight to go. With that said, it looks great and it is my understanding that no wires were used.
Scott Adkins is the real deal. The guy is flat out amazing. I am not so sure about his acting skills, but he is a first rate fighter. If this were the 80s again, he would be there along with Seagal, Van Damme, Speakman, and the like. Hopefully he will find a niche and we will get to see more of his cinematic fighting for years to come.
So, is the movie good? No, not in the strictest sense. It is not a movie that changes any games. It is the sort of movie that hones in on its target and does it exceptionally well. It is fast paced, delivers the fights, and keeps the viewer invested. This is a movie for the action/martial arts aficionado. You know who you are; go check this out.
Audio/Video. The video is presented in 1.85:1 and it looks solid. The film was shot digitally and the resulting image is smooth and clean, free of any artifacts or film grain. There is a good level of detail and blood splatter during the fights looks quite good. If there is a complaint, it is that it is not terribly vibrant. It is decent enough, but there is a softness to the whole. The audio is DTS-HD 5.1 and it does the job. There are not a lot of effects that impact the surrounds, but the center is pretty active with the fight noises and the underlying music track. It is a decent technical package, but nothing to write home about.
Extras. Nothing, save for a second disk containing a digital copy.
Bottomline. I am glad I came across that tweet; otherwise, I may not have checked this out and missed the fighting excellence that is Scott Adkins and the fighting in prison story done so well. This is a good movie; it knows its audience and it executes in strong fashion.