Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Undisputed II (2005)

Surprisingly effective DTV action sequel about "Iceman" Chambers (Ving Rhames in the first one) having to fight a MMA fighter to earn his freedom from a Russian gulag. Michael Jai White replaces Rhames as Chambers, and, while definitely seeming more like Wesley Snipes' character than Rhames', is a thoroughly watchable protagonist. We know White can fight, but he really surprises in the more heartfelt scenes which, in the hands of a lesser actor, would have been readily apparent as melodramatic filler between fight scenes. Ben Cross from Chariots of Fire is also on hand as Chambers' trainer/cellmate, who has some great scenes involving his heroin addiction that, again, a lesser actor could've easily fumbled. Scott Adkins is terrifying here as the villain, and I look forward to seeing the Adkins-centric Undisputed III (especially because the choreographer of that one did that killer Mortal Kombat trailer making the rounds online right now). The production values, especially the fight choreography, are very strong for a film of this scale, and there is very little here that is glaringly cheesy or cheap. Adkins moves, in particular, are better executed and shot than those in most studio actioners.

Recommended for fans of the original, Michael Jai White or MMA/boxing flicks. I'd heard this was a strong sequel, and I was still impressed.

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