The Aisle Steat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Undisputed III: Redemption

The amazing thing about the home video market is that even a relatively obscure film can become popular enough to spawn sequels. Undisputed was a 2002 picture starring Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames that made just $12 million at the box office. Nevertheless, it did sufficiently well in the home format to spawn a direct-to-DVD sequel, in which Michael Jai White took over the role Rhames played in the original. Now comes Undisputed III: Redemption, debuting on DVD and Blu-Ray June 1. There's not a whole lot connecting it to the original, other than a basic premise involving a prison fighting league. Still, it's got some terrific action scenes that will please fans of mixed martial arts fighting.

Scott Atkins (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) returns from Undisputed 2 as Boyka, a Russian prisoner who has trained his whole life to become "the most complete fighter" in the world. An underground gambling syndicate has organized an event that brings together eight fighters from maximum security prisons around the globe. It is promised that the winner will be allowed to go free. Boyka naturally plans to win the event, only to discover that the prize may be bogus. This means he'll have to fight opponents both in and out of the ring.

Of course, in a genre B-movie like this, the plot is really only an excuse to tie together a bunch of intricately-staged fight sequences. There is nothing in this story that is new or original, or even particularly interesting. The film itself barely has time for the plot, so busy is it in getting to the next big pumelling match.

As dull as the story may be, those fighting scenes are admittedly impressive. I know nothing about mixed martial arts, and even I was entertained by the way they are choreographed. Director Isaac Florentine wisely chooses a lot of long, fluid shots that allow us to see how skilled the fighters are. The effect is not achieved through fancy editing, but rather by casting amazing athletes who really can punch, flip, twist, spin, defy gravity, and kick ass. There is something fascinating about watching individuals who are skilled at martial arts because, while violent, the moves also have a poetry about them. If nothing else, Undisputed III: Redemption lets you admire that sense of movement.

The acting is above what you'd expect in this sort of thing. Aside from being a gifted fighter, Scott Atkins is credible in his role, projecting an authentic sense of downtrodden anger. He shares some chemistry with Mykel Shannon Jenkins as another fighter with whom Boyka initially clashes but eventually comes to rely on. Really, these two guys were better than I expected them to be.

There is no doubt that Undisputed III was made for an audience that loves hardcore fighting, both as entertainment and as skill. Those viewers will find this a very satsifying viewing experience. I'm not in that audience, so for me, the movie was more of a curiosity. The plot goes nowhere, but I have to say that the abilities of the fighters were cool to watch.

( out of four)

DVD Features:

Undisputed III: Redemption releases on June 1 on DVD or in a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack. It is also available on demand through digital cable, satellite TV, and Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game consoles. The film is available for rental or purchase on iTunes and Amazon Video on Demand.

The only bonus feature is a digital copy that comes with the Blu-Ray. Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are solid.

Undisputed III: Redemption is rated R for brutal bloody violence and pervasive language. The running time is 1 hour and 36 minutes.