History Channel // 2007 // 752 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // February 11th, 2011
Join mixed martial Artist Jason Chambers and ex pro-footballer Bill Duff as they travel the globe and learn the history, styles, and methodology behind the world's most brutal forms of combat, and put their skills and their bodies on the line against real human weapons.
The formula for Human Weapon is pretty simple, over the course of a TV hour, your typical episode has our pair of hosts focus on a single form of combat, learn a sampling of that martial art's unique features, while explaining the capabilities of these techniques with some effective CG dummies and knowledgeable voice over. A chunk of time is spent delving into the history of the style in question, and you almost always get a pretty complete picture of where the particular style of fighting originated, and what it was used for. (Hint: Typically to beat up another person.) Then our boys put their new skills to the test against seasoned veterans who typically want to demonstrate their own degree of skill by beating up on some American pretty boys.
These pretty boys aren't exactly pushovers, however. Jason Chambers is a capable mixed martial arts veteran, with speed and reflexes, and Bill Duff is just plain colossal, with pure physical power backing up his wrestling and pro-football backgrounds. These guys take to pretty much every challenge thrown at them like ducks to water, and they make up for any lack of charisma they have as hosts in sheer willpower and ability.
It's all pretty interesting, but it did take an episode or two for the series to click with me. By the time I hit the second disc, I was suitably hooked. When the focus is squarely on the fighting instead of sightseeing and touristy stuff, the show becomes a fantastic glimpse at the world of some fighters whose disciplines have nothing to do with rings, rules, or title matches. The episode focused on Israel's Krav Maga fighting style, for example was particularly enlightening; here we have a martial art designed entirely to end a fight as quickly as possible, either through debilitating your assailant in crippling fashion or outright killing him. It's shocking, violent, and more than a little scary to see these guys (mostly professional security escorts, defense force soldiers, and anti-terrorist commandos) in action. While the odd clunker episode creeps in, for the most part the show should easily appeal to anyone with an interest in the increasingly popular world of MMA or martial arts in general.
The Blu-ray presentation is solid, with a slightly soft 1080p image that preserves the vibrancy of the colorful locales our hosts visit. The audio is a more mixed bag, usually filmed on scene and presented in stereo; it's limited by the source material, and gets quiet at times, so you may have to go a little louder than normal. But it gets the job done. No extras are present.
All throughout Human Weapon, I was constantly reminded of the "fighter-centric" episodes of Travel Channel's amazing Dhani Tackles the Globe. Yes, Human Weapon lacks the accessibility and sheer entertainment factor of Dhani Jones' exploits, but its emphasis on pure fighting and the history of mano y mano combat would probably endear it more to those who just want to watch some big men kill each other.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 752 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Interactive Game