Lionsgate // 2009 // 108 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 16th, 2010
The fight of his life.
A past-his-prime fighter finds himself drafted into an elite MMA tournament. With the odds stacked against him, can he call upon his heart, willpower, and genre conventions to take the title?
Hector Echavarria stars as said fighter, a down-on-his-luck grappler who splits his time between small venue cage matches and nightclub bouncer duty. During his off-time, he's romancing a co-worker, mentoring an over-zealous young kid, and taking baths.
This exciting life is about to change, when he's entered into a tournament to take on the undefeated champion as a ratings gimmick. Though everyone thinks he's too old and broken-down to compete, it's obvious they haven't seen Rocky Balboa.
These guys from Tapout Films are on fire. I don't know if they have a stockpile of these movies in some vault waiting to be released every couple of months, or if they're all just so incredibly determined to put the straight-to-DVD market in a hammerlock and make it submit to its sweaty omnipresence that they're working around the clock.
Here then is their latest, a blatant recycling of various Rocky plot elements, combined with the trademarks that appear in all of these Tapout productions: mediocre modern rock, corrosive acting, and an excessive amount of nudity.
Oh, and there is mixed martial arts, too. Probably not enough, I suspect, to satisfy the desires of the hardcore MMA crowd, however. You get some fighting in the beginning, a smattering of sparring sessions, the necessarily training montage, and of course the big finale where our hero must navigate a mini-boss fight before squaring off with the story's main nemesis. These action sequences are shot about as well as they could be, I guess, though I'm not quite sold on the viability of MMA fights in feature films. Then again, since the ending is never in doubt, the tension suffers and the fights are hollow affairs with pre-determined outcomes.
Hector Echavarria, the star in all of these films, returns with the same schtick -- just a little more hapless. He still wins every fight, scores with every girl he sets his sights on, and reels off brutal one-liners. Being the star and screenwriter certainly has its privileges.
That's your movie, and there's nothing you haven't seen before, especially if you've seen a Tapout movie.
The Blu-ray is adequate, beginning with the 1.78:1 1080p high-def transfer; a clean, richly colored picture that suits the hyper-stylized cinematography. The solid video work is joined by a crisp, aggressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that pumps out the (blah) soundtrack and the fight effects with verve. Extras: a filmmakers' commentary, cast interviews, and featurettes on the making-of, the action sequences, and the fight choreography.
Punches, clichés and strippers -- enjoy!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R