Stars: Susie Celek, Miesha Tate, Erin O’Brien, Kari J. Kramer, Cabrina Collesides, Chelsea Durkalec, Jefferson Sanders, Ivy Lashawn Coleman, Steve Downing, Salvatore Franciosa, Bonnie Bruderer, Ariel Gramazio, Rashaad Jackson, Cris Cyborg, Alexandria Williams | Written and Directed by Rob Hawk
Fight Valley isn’t the kind of movie I usually watch, so I was quite intrigued to see if I would enjoy it. I like a good action flick, and I like crime drama when it’s done well, so there was enough going on in the synopsis of this film to grab my attention. The main appeal of the film though is the casting of many well known UFC names. Let’s talk about that for a moment.
I was a fan of UFC back in the nineties. I watched the stuff with Shamrock and Royce Gracie and Kimo, but since that decade ended I have only seen snippets of UFC stuff and haven’t followed the sport as it leapt into the stratosphere of popularity. Now, I know plenty of names from the UFC and have checked out the odd fight, but many of the fighters cast in Fight Valley will be, sadly, lost on me. I’m not someone who can call themselves a “fan” or in any way knowledgable about the current or recent UFC product, so I may miss the point of why this exists in some ways. Still… I thought it was a cool concept and a smart way to bring in a large audience who love the world of MMA.
The plot follows an investigation by the sister of a young female fighter named Tori Coro who was found dead. Her sis, Windsor, looks into the happenings surrounding her sister’s death. Her sister was found dead, beaten and bloody in a forest but rumours swirl that she died while competing in the titular Fight Valley, an underground and clandestine neighbourhood designed for fighters to make some cash. Windsor trains to fight with the help of experienced fighter Jabs, as she continues her investigation and unlocks what happened to her sister along the way.
Jabs, played by Meisha Tate, was actually pretty good here, especially given that her background isn’t in the acting side of things. This can be said with a good chunk of the cast and mostly the performances exceeded what I’d expected before watching the film. Ivy Lashawn Coleman as Gracey was very good and someone I enjoyed watching, I felt like her scenes stole the film for me, and she had a real presence. There were cameos from UFC names such as Holly Holm too, which I imagine will be a cool little novelty for fans. The acting was a bit hit and miss overall though, some were decent and better than expected; while others felt a touch on the wooden side.
There can be no denying that Fight Valley looks low budget and somewhat cheap, and that can effect the enjoyment and immersion when it comes to the storyline and losing yourself in performances. The strength here lays with the decent plot and enjoyable couple of performances along the way. It is not a particularly good looking movie, the music did nothing for me personally, and the fight sequences, which are a major selling point here, were often a bit of a let down. Still, I expected little and so I wasn’t disappointed. It wasn’t too bad, and there is enough going on to appeal to MMA enthusiasts and fight-flick fans alike.
Fight Valley is available DVD and VOD now.