So ‘Undisputed II – Last Man Standing’ shows up on my doorstep and I’m wondering ‘why in the world would anybody want to make a sequel to ‘Undisputed’?’ Despite the fact that the original had Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames in it, and was directed by Walter Hill, it was a fairly dull, uninspired, slow moving ‘action’ movie that grossed a whopping twelve million dollars. A sum that barely covered Wesley’s trailer expenses, I’m almost certain. But for reasons I can only theorize, New Line Home decided that ‘Undisputed’ rated a sequel. A Direct-to-Video sequel, but a sequel nonetheless.
In this incarnation, Michael Jai White takes over the mantle from Ving Rhames portraying now Ex-heavyweight champ George ‘The Iceman’ Chambers. Chambers is in Russia schlepping an adult beverage in some commercial since he’s flat broke. Meanwhile, Russian mobster Gaga (?) (Mark Ivanir) is monitoring through closed circuit a prison match between the near indestructible, and completely pychopathical Boyka (Scott Adams) and his fodder for the week. Because of Boyka’s skill as a fighter, Gaga is bleeding money off of his fights and needs a big prison fight with some legitimate competition to rake in some much needed cash. Gaga then launches this ridiculous plan that involves framing Chambers for drug possession, getting him sent to jail and then forcing him to sign up for the big prison fight, or he’ll rot. Damn if that silly plan didn’t work like a charm.
So now we have The Iceman in a Russian prison forced to fight this guy while being trained by junkie Stevie Parker (Ben Cross). Stevie tells The Iceman that he’s the one
person that Chambers can trust. Now The Iceman is supposed to be from the streets, and as such, he should know that the one person on the planet that you CAN’T trust, is a junkie. Scenario: You’re life is in danger and you need twenty bucks to save it. You can call one of two people to go to your home and bring you this twenty bucks. On one side is Satan, on the other side is your mom, who just so happens to be a junkie. Who do you choose to bring you this life saving twenty? Satan, of course. I know you're like 'But it's my mom…' Satan. 'Mother would never…' Satan. 'Come on, it's my…' Satan. Yeah, heroin addicts are generally untrustworthy people, and George ‘The Iceman’ Chamber, from the ‘streets’ should probably know this little fact. He doesn’t and predictably bad things happen.
Things get a little more silly as George befriends a wheel chair bound Russian prisoner named Nicolai (Eli Danker) who goes all Mickey-like on George and trains him in the finer arts of mixed mode boxing, and in the process teaching the selfish ex-champ about life, and serving someone greater than yourself.
It may sound from the description above that I didn’t care much for ‘Undisputed II’ but nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is ‘Undisputed II’ far more entertaining than the original film, it could possibly the best DTV sequel ever. Of course that would mean that it’s better than putrid fare such as ‘Hollowman II’, ‘The Butterfly Effect 2’, and ‘Doctor Doolittle 3’, but the fact remains. What ‘Undisputed has going for it is that it’s very entertaining, and all of that can be easily linked to its fight scenes which are simply outstanding. Director Isaac Florentine is something of a fight fan himself and his love for the art is evident in how finely choreographed, and how beautifully shot each fight sequence is presented. His two leads may not be joining London’s Royal Shakespeare Company anytime soon, but whatever time they sacrificed in acting lessons, Michael Jai White and Scott Adams applied those hours into gym workouts as these are two of the most fit cats you’ll ever see. Florentine makes particular good use of Adams acrobat skills as he pulls off some truly amazing stunts in his fight sequences. Florentine may have gone a little over the top in emphasizing the Iceman’s punching power, I mean one punch from the dude sends you flying across the room, literally, but I ain’t trying get hit by Michael Jai White to prove that it was a camera trick.
True, there was a lot of
really silly implausible stuff going on in ‘Undisputed
II’, but it’s a fight movie taking place in a Russian
prison that’s a sequel to a movie that probably nobody
has seen. ‘Casablanca it ain’t. But what it
is a high flying, butt kicking, quick moving fight
picture that anybody who likes these kinds of movies
should enjoy. If they had tossed in some
gratuitous breast, it just might have been
perfect. Joking of course.