" ...And this monkey is still left wondering precisely what point the director was trying to make. "
Title: Undisputed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Format: DVD Action Film
Reviewing Monkey: Genghis Kong
The Hype: The heavyweight boxing champion of the world meets the heavyweight boxing champion of the underworld in this prison action flick. Whether it's good or not, my monkeys, it features two muscle-bound gorillas beating each other into a pulp gladiator-style, and that makes Genghis Kong a happy conqueror ape.
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Acting: The world heavyweight champ (Ving Rhames) is sent to prison for an alleged rape (whether or not he did it is never truly explained, nor does it figure heavily into the plot), where an incarcerated mafia boss and boxing aficionado (Peter Falk) sets his sights on pitting the champ against the penitentiary's undefeated boxing champion (Wesley Snipes), a former up-and-comer serving a life sentence for murder. The film tends to follow Rhames primarily, showing his reckless behavior to build a rep behind bars by kicking the crap out of anyone who looks at him crossways and thus making him universally reviled where Snipes is accepted as the pride of the "community." Snipes' character comes off as some sort of boxing Zen master, focusing inward and keeping his head down while building matchstick pagodas in solitary confinement and beating the tar out of all comers every six months at the tacitly endorsed prison fights held between local penitentiaries. The plot is carried along by a shoestring, with very little validation given as to how prison boxing matches conceivably began in the first place, though we're led to believe that Falk's mafia don character has something to do with this. The characters are poorly developed (when any development takes place), and the acting jumps from passable to flat. Rhames delivers the expected egomaniac world champ persona by rote, presenting a fairly average performance for an actor capable of much more depth - this movie is no Driving Miss Daisy, but with the amount of screen time and dialogue he was given, he could have pulled off something more impressive. Snipes is, by comparison, barely in the picture, delivering very few lines when he gets any screen time due to the laconic nature of his character. He plays the role well, but doesn't capture the camera enough to build up significant pathos. Falk's character comes off as bumbling and silly most times, with only one memorable scene of him facing down the prison warden showing any acting range or intelligence whatsoever, and this monkey was forced to wonder whether the actor himself has many more marbles left upstairs than the character he adopted for the film. The story isn't particularly compelling, and the actors do little to draw attention to it. 2 out of 5
Visuals and Directing: There is little to distinguish this film as far as visuals or directing go, which is unfortunate in an action film. With very little plot or acting to go on, the film attempts to fall back on action sequences, which are lukewarm at best. The director's decision to stick with Rhames over Snipes for the majority of the film forces the audience into a lot of tense moments where the champ picks fights with the entire prison, throws a few sharp jabs to make his point, and stalks off. We are even treated to a slow shower scene build-up of his angry ass when he marches away from a face-to-face with Snipes, and this monkey is still left wondering precisely what point the director was trying to make with that visual. The final confrontation between Snipes and Rhames is nothing special, featuring the standard "early knockdown" technique adopted by professional wrestlers and Rocky movies wherein the one who goes down first and seems the most hurt is the one to win by an amazing comeback. The boxing choreography is a little stale and wooden - I've seen Dungapult deliver a more passionate and vicious beating to small children in line at Chuck E Cheese, and even he refers to that as "sportfighting." Fight Club it is not, and as we all know Wesley Snipes can throw a ham-fisted haymaker with the best of them, I declare this category 2 out of 5.
DVD Extras: There are exactly two special features on this DVD - a conversation with Ving Rhames, and a conversation with Wesley Snipes. Neither conversation is particularly long, and both focus on the training the two underwent for the rather brief boxing scenes in the movie. Beyond that, there are no special features - no director commentary, no cut scenes, no alternate languages. In fact, the only option available is for English subtitles. As far as DVDs go, this is a serious VHS showing. .5 out of 5.
|Well, it certainly isn't Rocky, and it's nowhere near Ali, and…hell, sad as it is to say, it isn't even Play It to the Bone. It lacks heavily in the plot area, the acting area, the cinematography area, the choreography area, and most other areas we monkeys consider necessary to films (though it is rather heavy in the Ving Rhames Ass area, which the Mongrel Hordes could do without), and it retails for $29.99. You figure it out.|
The Good: Large men hit each other repeatedly with their fists, and sometimes blood flies out.
The Bad: Overpriced, under-acted, with an ultra-linear plot.
The Overall Ugly: Absolutely nothing special.
What it's Worth: Rental, if you feel like seeing a mediocre prison/boxing movie.