In this review, Judge Ian Visser commits a foul by inserting his digit into your orifice.
5 disks, 44 fights, and 412 minutes of punishment.
Which style will reign supreme? Which man will be left standing? Who will be the "King of the Cage?"
Facts of the Case
Mixed martial arts (or MMA) may just be the sports story of the past decade. Airing on pay-per-view television in 1993, the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) event was an attempt to discern which martial-arts fighting style was superior. The matches were ugly and brutal, with no gloves, rules, or officiating. They were also lousy to watch, since many of the competitors were nothing more than bar-brawlers with bad tempers.
The bouts were a hit with the public, however, and continued to grow in popularity despite opposition from politicians and community groups. Fast-forward a few years, and MMA (and the market-leading UFC) is now one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. The events attract corporate sponsors, top-notch talent, and many, many subscribers to pay-per-view matches. The top fighters are interviewed on the late-night talk show circuit and appear in Hollywood films.
Once the UFC started raking in the big bucks, however, it was inevitable that other organizations would attempt to eat its lunch. One of these has been King of the Cage, a competing effort that also features bouts on a pay-per-view basis. Frankly, King of the Cage is not up to par with the juggernaut that is UFC, and it shows. There is a distinct "low rent" feeling to its matches, with cheap lighting, bad stadium effects, and a crowd that looks like it just stumbled in from the local bar. I imagine some fans prefer this grittier, less-flashy type of event, but ultimately it's the fighters that make or break this kind of entertainment.
BCI Eclipse presents King of the Cage: Big Stars, Best Knockouts, a sprawling five-disk set that mixes the matches of up-and-coming fighters with a variety of knockout clips. There are 44 matches in this offering, including:
Disc 1: Reality Stars II, Volume 1
Disc 2: Reality Stars II, Volume 2
Disc 3: Greatest Knockouts, Volume 1
Disc 4: Greatest Knockouts, Volume 2
Disc 5: Greatest Knockouts, Volume 3
Discs 1 and 2 of King of the Cage: Big Stars, Best Knockouts feature matches comprised of competitors from various seasons of the SPIKE network's reality show The Ultimate Fighter. The show was actually a UFC co-production, but no doubt King of the Cage is happy to take the talent off their hands. Each match features a full fight, including an intro of each fighter and a play-by-play by ringside announcers. For the most part these are satisfactory bouts, although many of the competitors have limited experience and haven't yet developed top-notch skills. Aside from fan-favorite Forrest Griffin, nobody here could be considered among the elite of the MMA world, so the selection of bouts may not appeal to everyone.
The remaining three discs comprise the "knockout" component of the set, featuring matches sourced from the previous eight years of King of the Cage pay-per-view events. Over the course of the disks viewers get to watch a variety of kicks, chokes, and submissions employed to end matches, and most of the KO's get a slow-motion replay of the damage. Each match provides a brief recap of the fighter's stats, but there are no dates indicating when any of the fights took place.
Surprisingly, these selections actually feature entire fights, not merely short clips of the knockouts. Some matches are understandably shorter than others, but many extend into the closing minutes of the assigned time so that viewers get a considerable amount of material to review. This is something of a mixed blessing, however. While one gets a lot of content, the quality of the fights themselves isn't always the greatest and there can be a lot of "dead space" before the eventual knock-out gets delivered. In addition, there is no consistent form of presentation, as most of the fights are from differing pay-per-view events. The audio seems to be keyed very low, to the point that I had to turn up my sound higher than I would have expected in order to hear the action and commentary.
On the technical side, the full-frame image of King of the Cage: Big Stars, Best Knockouts leaves much to be desired. The image is generally too bright, with a good deal of bleeding and smearing visible in the color. The older matches often have a significant amount of grain present, and as mentioned the sound is inconsistent and often needs to be adjusted between matches.
The only extra is a brief recap of the official rules presented on each disk. This is a disappointment which only adds to the feeling that this is more a collection of spliced-together clips than a set compiled with care for fans to enjoy. Worse, each disk features an irritating Rock Star energy drink ad that runs after selecting the "play all" feature. It's an "extreme" beverage, I get it. Sheesh.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This isn't the UFC, so there is no Joe Rogan (News Radio) to listen to on the play-by-play commentary of each match. Trust me, people, this is a plus. In addition, King of the Cage: Big Stars, Best Knockouts also includes the fore-mentioned "play all" feature on each disk, which is a small but welcome addition to any compilation. Finally, despite the high number of bouts, the set manages to limit the amount of repetition in the matches and spread the attention around.
This is a tough one. There is plenty of content on this set, but it's not all top-quality. More than anything it feels like a slapped-together compilation of whatever footage was available instead of a carefully constructed example of what the King of the Cage experience is all about. While the court appreciates the volume of the evidence, it wishes the accused was more concerned with quality over quantity.
The defendant has swamped the court with paperwork and evidence. In frustration, this Judge dismisses the case with time served.
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