07th Feb2019

‘Undisputed: Fight For Freedom’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Scott Adkins, Teodora Duhovnikova, Martyn Ford, Brahim Achabbakhe, Emilien De Falco, Alon Aboutboul, Julian Vergov, Valentin Ganev | Written by David N. White | Directed by Todor Chapkanov

UNDISPUTED_DVD_2D

Infamous Russian MMA fighter Yuri Boyka (Scott Adkins) returns to the ring in the latest instalment of the Undisputed franchise, Undisputed: Fight For Freedom (aka Boyka: Undisputed) – the FOURTH film in the series that a) refuses to die, and b) has never faltered since the original sequel and the first appearance of Scott Adkins as Boyka. In fact such was Adkins’ charisma that, in this and the previous film, his character has become the star of the franchise!

This time round Boyka is taking his new found freedom and pursuing his dream of becoming the ultimate fighter. But after the death of his ring opponent he finds himself questioning the decisions he has made in life. Seeking forgiveness from the fighter’s widow he risks his life going back to Russia, only to find himself dragged back into the violent world he tried to escape from…

It’s hard to believe that, back in 2006, we’d still be talking about new entries in the Undisputed franchise. After all, the first film, even though it was directed by Walter Hill, didn’t capture the imagination of too many, somewhat disappearing into obscurity. Yet the sequel, released some 4 years later, which eschewed any mainstream trappings in favour of focusing on the action – became something of a perfect DTV sequel. Actors who had to learn to fight were replaced by actors who could fight and experienced action veterans Isaac Florentine and Boaz Davidson, along with screenwriter David N. White (all of whom have stayed involved with the series) were tasked with turning a prison boxing film into an badass MMA action film franchise.

And boy did they succeed! Undisputed 2 exploded both with hardcore genre fans and those that love a good fight flick, kicking off Scott Adkins action superstar career in the process. However that success would also be the series downfall – the third film was VERY heavily pirated putting the fourth film in jeopardy, which is why there’s, ultimately, a whopping six years between sequels!

But it was WELL worth the wait. Trust me.

Undisputed: Fight For Freedom is, honestly, the culmination of everything has has come before it, distilled into a story that is as heartfelt as it is action-packed; bringing Boyka full-circle – all the better for the journey, finding an inner peace that has alluded him yet fueled him to fight. And speaking of fights… this particular entry in the series features Scott Adkins at his arse-kicking best – punches, flips, kicks galore. In fact the ridiculous amount of dropkicks of ALL varieties (trust me, Adkins dropkicks in this film should go into the annals of all-time-greatest) is amazing, making Boyka look like some sort of inhuman machine. Credit MUST go to fight choreographer, and all-round unsung hero of fight choreography, Tim Man – who has also worked on the likes of The Marine 6: Close Quarters, Accident Man, Acts Of Vengeance and Adkins’ Eliminators – who makes the fight scenes in this film look brutal; with the foley crew making it sound even worse, with bone crunches, snaps, cracks etc that echo the old-school 70s kung-fu flicks but with a modern, all-too-real, feel!

Surprisingly, given how amazing they are in this film, Undisputed: Fight For Freedom is not just about the fights, there’s a real heart to the movie too. One that not only ties heavily into Boyka’s personal journey (his redemption) but also leaves audiences thinking about the OTHER guy in these kinds of film. Yes we all root for the hero and want him to kick the living crap out of the “bad guy” but what about those left behind when a fight goes to far? That aspect of the film is handled with aplomb by writer White and director Chapkanov – neither present the emotional aspects of this film with a heavy-hand, instead its put forth with a subtlety not often seen in the genre. It’s a refreshing change and one that raises this film over and above others of its ilk.

Given the troubles with piracy it’s kudos to Adkins and co. for sticking with the Undisputed franchise and delivering what is the pinnacle of the series and a damn fine final entry. Though if Adkins decides to bring Boyka back once again I’ll be front and centre to see more!

***** 5/5

Undisputed: Fight For Freedom is out on DVD now from Lionsgate.

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