The first movie to start the killer franchise! While it’s not a bad movie, these days it’s kind of cool by association. Undisputed is the introduction to the series that helped put Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins in the face of martial Arts fanatics, but it’s vastly different form the it’s sequels. If you haven’t seen this movie then beware, this review has spoilers!
Undisputed is based around boxing. With a simple concept – to see who is the undisputed boxing champion of the world!
So there’s two guys, both undefeated. The first is a boxer named Monroe Hutchens, played by Wesley Snipes, the other is George ‘Iceman’ Chambers – played by Ving Rhames.
Monroe has been in prison for 10 years. He was a former prospect and undefeated in the sport of boxing. On the inside, the people call him champ.
Monroe is the champion of the prison boxing circuit, still undefeated. He loves the sport, but he’s not your typical cocky fighter. Monroe likes building models and keeping to himself. He’s humble and greatly respected by the inmates around him.
Suddenly a new threat to his championship is brought into prison. His friends reassure him that this new boxer, Chambers, is nothing,the prison is ‘his house’ to which Monroe replies by pointing out that if it were his house, he could leave whenever he wanted to.
Things start to get a bit tense between him and the new boxer – George Iceman Chambers.
He’s a man of attitude. He’s the world heavyweight boxing champion, and he’s being locked up for raping a woman, he claims he didn’t rape. Although it’s never revealed whether he did or not, the general consensus is that he’s innocent.
As soon as he arrives he asserts his authority. He wants everyone to know he’s the man, the champ, and not to bother him.
While being threatened or ridiculed, he settles things with a quick solid punch, which knocks most guys out straight away. Even when being approached peacefully by a powerful group known as ‘El Faziz Assassins’ to join and create unity, he unleashes all hell, beating up the entire group by himself.
The Iceman is in your face. He’s aggressive and wants everyone to know that he is the champ – not Monroe.
The idea is simple, you have one guy who’s the champion of the world outside of prison, while the other is the champion on the inside. Put the the two together and the winner is champion of the whole world. But there’s more behind this fight than just inside or outside.
You’ve got a guy, Chambers, who puts on a show, flaunts his skills and is known for his bad attitude as well as his awesome amount of power and strength.
On the other hand you’ve got a guy, Monroe, who’s grounded. He understands that every fighter must lose one day. He has the respect of those around him because he’s humble. However his physical stature, while being athletic, is not as powerful as the Chambers’.
It’s a classic David Vs Goliath type fight in the works through out the movie. A look at the attitudes of two warriors and how this helps to determine their success.
The End Result, and a bit on the Martial Arts (Spoilers)
In true Hollywood fashion, the smaller guy defeats the ‘beast’ with skill and perseverance. But it’s not all about overcoming the odds as much as it could be read as a statement on life (although I don’t think any such depth was intended). The people with the power, physical, financial, or whatever often rely on it to get to where they need to go. While the smaller, less powerful person uses his mind to evade the big obstacles and find his path by being true to himself, and practicing patience and perseverance.
The fight starts off with Monroe dancing around Chambers, throwing out a few feelers, but Chambers’ massive power eventually lands and puts Monroe down a few times. But as the fight progresses, Monroe’s understanding of his movement gets better, he’s able to evade more and land more strikes by working his angles and counters.
Within a few rounds, Monroe is using superior footwork and seeing through Chambers aggressive ‘hulk smash’ style attacks, and is using his speed and skill to put him through his paces. Before long he’s laying into the ‘outside’ champ and knocks him out cold.
Interestingly, Chambers returns to the outside world and regains his title of heavy weight champ. A small statement about Monroe as this solidifies him the champ of the world – ‘Undisputed’.
This is can speak directly to any martial artist (as I consider boxers to be martial artists). While brute strength and power are great tools, a deeper understanding of movement and technique are what carries you through to the end. As they say, there will always be a bigger guy, and always a better guy.
In particular I like the use of angles, although at times they seemed to just stand in front of each other and trade very two-dimensionally, the use of angles and counters really is done well. Wesley Snipes really sells his skill in the martial arts through this boxing performance.
Surprisingly, I found Ving Rhames to look quite convincing with his style as Chambers, especially since he isn’t known as a practicing martial artist or boxer (as far as I know!). Although his style is more brute force, he still holds and carries himself in the ring convincingly as a boxer. I read that he is quite a boxing fan, and there fore probably has some training background before the film (aside from that training linked to the film directly).
My thoughts on this and the sequels…
It isn’t as epic a martial arts movie that Undisputed 2 or 3 were, but it still holds it’s own as a quality movie. I have to say that once Michael Jai White took the role of Chambers in Undisputed 2, and face off against Boyka, things really got interesting and exciting and a whole new level. This movie acts as a good lead in if you want to know more about the character of George Chambers and his history in the movies.
Check back in a week or two for my review on Undisputed 2!
Until then, here’s a snippet of Undisputed, followed by some info on getting your hands on the Undisputed movies.
The only movie to have made it to Blu-Ray is Undisputed 3.
It does seem hard to find for people in countries outside of America.
But have no fear – the movie is completely region free.
On DVD –