08th Jan2019

Movies You May Have Missed: ‘Circle Of Pain’

by Phil Wheat

Welcome to the latest installment in our regular Movies You May Have Missed series here on Nerdly, in which I highlight some of, what I think, are the best movies that have flown under the radar of many or have been “forgotten” in the intervening years since its release. This time round its the MMA-themed action flick Circle of Pain.


Stars: Dean Cain, Bai Ling, Louis Herthum, Tony Schiena, Heath Herring, Kimbo Slice, Roger Huerta, Frank Mir, Miguel Torres | Written by Bobby Mort | Directed by Daniel Zirilli

Official Synopsis:

Following a fighting accident, Dalton Hunt retired from the world of mixed martial arts at the top of his game. As Dalton is lured back into the world of fighting, he strides to become the warrior he once was.

My Thoughts:

Ah, the straight to DVD action movie, how I love you… Essentially a mix of Kickboxer and Rocky, Circle Of Pain is an epic mixed martial arts extravagnza that sees retired MMA champion Dalton Hunt (Schiena) forced back into the steel cage by ruthless fight promoter Victoria Rualan (Ling) to battle the current undefeated champ Colin Wahle (Herring) in what she sees as a dream bout – one that will bring in big money for her. Unable to break his contract, which guarantees one more fight, Hunt  – with the help of ageing semi-retired trainer Willy – must overcome both being out of shape, and the memory of crippling his best friend (Cain) in an MMA sparring match, in order to train for his return to the ring.

See what I mean? Even by that brief synopsis you can see this film’s influences – underdog fighter returns to the ring with the help of an old trainer? Rocky. Crippled buddy? Kickboxer. Hell, there’s even a bar fight that echoes the bar fight in Kickboxer! But that’s not to say those influences make Circle Of Pain feel derivative. In fact the film feels very much old-school, if it wasn’t for the use of MMA fighters and fighting style, the movie could have walked right out of the 90’s and the DTV action movie heyday; and trust me when I say that coming from me that’s high praise.

This is a true guys movie, it really is all about boobs and butt-kicking. Ignore the 15 rating the BBFC gave it, believe me when I say Circle Of Pain feels more like an 18-rated flick, there’s plenty of violence, sex and naked chicks: hell, ten minutes into the film Bai Ling has got naked and indulged in a brief spot of lesbianism… Obviously this is a martial arts/fight movie, and it doesn’t disappoint on that score either – director Daniel Zirilli knows how to shoot an MMA fight and he knows what makes a good training montage! It’s also refreshing to see MMA fighters who can actually act too – especially Tony Schiena as the former MMA champ and Heath Herring as the current bad-boy champ he must defeat.

Circle Of Pain is a definite must see for MMA fans and action movie aficionados alike.

Where to Find It:

The 2011 DVD release from Chelsea Films is still available from Amazon. You can also rent/buy the film on iTunes and Amazon Prime for less than a fiver.


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