Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

As I watch more movies from my main man former MMA brawler and current prolific filmmaker Hector Echavarria I know going in I can count on one thing. I’m gonna see some titties. I’m pretty sure that I’m probably going to see fight scenes too, but I know with 100% certainty that I’m gonna see some titties. Today we have Mr. Echavarria’s latest film ‘Unrivaled’ and just like the last two movies of Echavarria’s, Death Warrior and Never Surrender, I saw titties… more than ever this time considering my man’s day job was working a strip club. But unlike those last two movies I think I might have actually saw a decent movie sandwiched in between the gratuitous titty scenes.

The movie starts in an underground cage fight where Ringo Duran (Echavarria), assisted by his goofy young friend Link (Steven Yaffe) is doing battle with some mean dude. The problem with Ringo’s stick and move style of fighting artistry is that it doesn’t really fit in with the whole underground scene and it’s not long before somebody passes his opponent a weapon to liven things up and Ringo gets the living bejeebus beat of him.

Though he’s bleeding from the head Ringo still has a job to go to where he’s a barback for the lovely Kara (Jordan Madley) at the local strip club. Ringo’s bad day gets even worse when brutal mobster Sergio Roza (Al Sapienza) strolls in the club looking for his 20 large that Ringo owes him. Ringo has about 80 bucks on him at the present so needless to say Sergio isn’t happy and its ass kicking time one more time again for poor Ringo. Good thing for Ringo that Kara, all eighty five pounds of her, has his back and sends these mobsters on their way, but Sergio still wants his money and Ringo really has no way to get him this money.

Good fortune, in a way, is about to shine on Ringo as the MCW, which stand something I can’t remember, is looking for the best amateur fighters to do battle with

their champion Christopher ‘The Pressure’ Holland, played by UFC star Rashad Evans who was great in this by the way. Even though Ringo wasn’t interested in participating, his boy Link entered him in the contest and somehow, against the wishes of Pressure and Ringo’s arch enemy Stone (Keith Jardine) he is selected to enter the four man tourney for the right to face The Pressure for all the marbles.

By this time Kara and Ringo have started kicking it which really doesn’t have much to do with anything other than this is another Echavarria film staple in that he also makes it a point to have elongated sex scenes with his female co-stars. Anyway, with his trusted trainer Raphael (Nicholas Campbell) by his side, his girl who is also a registered nurse in addition to being a bartender popping his damaged shoulder back in place, and his goofy friend who in movies like this almost always has something terrible happen to them, Ringo prepares for battle. Yes, he’s a long shot. Yes, the powers of the universe in the form of the evil mobster and the spoiled champion are against him. But with the spirit of his dead mother by his side... a woman who put the H in Hard, I have a feeling that Ringo is ‘gonna fly now’. It’s just a feeling.

I guess it wouldn’t be too unfair to call ‘Unrivaled’ a little derivative. Hector Echavarria as Rocky, Rashad Evans as Apollo, Nicholas Campbell as Mickey and Jordan Madley as Adrian only hotter. But if you’re going to be derivative of something then being derivative of ‘Rocky’ is a good bet. And I don’t remember ‘Rocky’ having tittes. There are a few things that make this movie much better than the last few Echavarria fight flicks I’ve seen, starting with director Warren P. Sonoda inserting more cinematic artistry than the last few flicks possessed. In addition, more effort was made to give Echavarria an actual character to play as opposed to just some cartoonish badass and the story, while still completely ludicrous, worked just fine in the context of the way it was presented.

The supporting cast was also better with Al Sapienza and Nicholas Campbell delivering exactly what you would expect from a couple of long time veteran character actors, Jordan Madley is pretty to the point of distraction and it looks like my man has found the best of his fighting buddies to use in his movies, particularly Rashad Evans who, dare we say, is a natural at this thing. Keith Jardine is interesting case study on the theory of acting. In the scenes that take place inside the ring my man is freaking Robert Deniro, and not just the fighting aspect but everything from his ease of delivery and his overall natural flow. Outside the ring he’s not nearly as comfortable. Fascinating!

The movie can get silly at times and of course it is painfully predictable. Hector Echavarria might be just a little too long in the tooth to be playing these fighting roles, though he did fit this one better than the last few we saw, but he did look more like Jordan Madley’s older uncle than her lover but we are not going to hate on the man because of that. This isn’t really a criticism or anything but since Jordan Madley apparently wasn’t all that interested in getting naked maybe the stunt titties should’ve been more in line with her body type. Just a suggestion.

Bottom line, at least for me, is that I found ‘Unrivaled’ very entertaining. Certainly a little derivative, slightly cheesy here and there but the solid performances, Echavarria’s well choreographed fight sequences and of course his obsession with titties on celluloid made it all gel together this time around and gave us something that was definitely worth watching.

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