Editor, Asia; Hong Kong, China (@Marshy00)

It's fair to say that a couple of months ago I had never heard of Isaac Florentine's film UNDISPUTED 3: REDEMPTION, and while I am vaguely aware of the Wesley Snipes/Ving Rhames original, most likely I would have skimmed past this film on the DVD shelf without so much of a second glance. That was, however, before Action Fest. At the inaugural celebration of all things tick tick boom in Ashville, North Carolina last month, Florentine was named Best Director, and Larnell Stovall collected the award for Best Fight Choreography. Suffice to say, UNDISPUTED 3 skyrocketed from total obscurity to the very top of my must-watch list, and martial arts fans will not be disappointed - UNDISPUTED 3 is a jawbreaker!


As I've already mentioned, I've never seen the first UNDISPUTED, nor its sequel, so while this film's proclamation that "Boyka's back!" was initially lost on me, it really matters not a jot. Uri Boyka (Scott Adkins) is a long-term Russian prison fighter, incarcerated for reasons probably explained in UNDISPUTED 2, along with the origins of the nasty knee injury that now sees him relegated to mopping prison toilets. However, when he gets wind of an underground tournament between some of the world's best prison fighters - with the prospect of freedom being dangled as the prize by the mobsters organising the event - Boyka ensures he is named Russia's entrant, and duly shipped off to the secret location.


Soon enough Boyka finds himself living in even worse conditions than before, forced into hours of monotonous manual labour by the fascistic prison warden and pitted against ruthless fighters from across the globe, in particular the USA's Turbo (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) and Columbia's drug-addled "bad guy", Dolor (Marko Zaror). As the money riding on these guys piles up and the blood and sweat rains down on the canvas, Boyka finds himself making cautious allegiances and potentially deadly rivalries as he fights, not just for freedom, but for his life!


UNDISPUTED 3 is as good a candidate as any to become the perfect Saturday night beer and pizza movie. It boasts little in the way of probing back-story or nuanced character development, it doesn't even feature a throw away romance - unless you count the grudging respect that builds between Boyka and Turbo. This is a film about huge, ripped guys pummelling the crap out of each other for 95 minutes - and features arguably the year's most elaborate, well choreographed and expertly filmed fight sequences to hammer that point home.


Isaac Florentine is under no misconception about what kind of film he is making and what his audience is paying to see and as a result he whips through the drama and expository sequences as quickly and economically as possible to get to the next beat-down before attentions begin to wane. And when he gets there, Florentine's direction truly dazzles. Each fight is filmed using long takes from dextrous, almost acrobatic, cameras that duck and weave around the ring, almost as quickly as the fighters, looping overheard or hanging off the ropes to capture Adkins, Zaror, Jenkins or whoever as they hurl their bodies into the air, before delivering sledgehammer blows on each other. The pace remains fast and exciting, and although the coverage does include a fair amount of over and under cranking, in this context it serves well to punctuate the fights, and helps the editor resist the urge to make cuts every second, so the action is allowed to flow and the combinations can speak for themselves.


The film also benefits from the fact that its action stars are also a fairly charismatic bunch of actors to boot. Scott Adkins is a likable and surprisingly confident leading man, even burdened by a thick Russian accent and dialogue that rarely rises above the mundane. In the ring his acrobatics and athleticism frequently leave your jaw hanging open, even as his opponents' shatter, but he handles the drama surprisingly well too. However, even Adkins is overshadowed by the towering presence of Chilean revelation Marko Zaror. ScreenAnarchy readers should now be all-too-familiar with the star of KILTRO and MANDRILL, who here proves to be a more than capable adversary for Adkins. His light-footed jaunty swagger, sure to become his trademark, betrays his size as he dances around the ring, and while his character isn't given too much depth, Zaror's got a natural eye-catching screen quality that's hard to ignore.


Now I've never been any good at accurately name-checking different martial arts or fighting styles, but I know what I like and UNDISPUTED 3 literally bulges at the seams with innovative, exciting and technically groundbreaking battles. The stars are given plenty of time to shine, while the film never outstays its welcome. As someone who normally demands genuine drama from real characters along with his martial arts, I was overpowered, overwhelmed and left battered and bleeding at the total mercy of this movie. Resistance is futile. UNDISPUTED 3: REDEMPTION rules.

Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.

More about Undisputed 3

Around the Internet