Like Westerns, the "boxing picture" used to be a regular, popular B-movie subject. And, even moreso than those aforementioned horse operas, the fight movie was rigidly formulaic, and generally only had one basic plot line. Warren P. Sonada's UNRIVALED (2010) is the modern-day equivalent of those ringside potboilers, only instead of being set in the world of professional boxing, it exploits the popularity of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
The story is one we've seen hundreds of times: the over-the-hill, down-on-his-luck but honest fighter (co-writer Hector Echavarria, EXTREME FORCE) is given a chance to compete against the top fighters in a mixed martial arts tournament, with a shot at the championship. But, between tough competition in the cage, and a gigantic debt to a crime boss, does he have what it takes to go the distance?
Yeah. In any case, the plot, such as it is, exists solely to string together a series of fights between Echavarria and a slew of other MMA personalities. Which is fine, because the movie makers know exactly who their audience is, and cater slavishly to them. To whit: the fights are all decently choreographed, shot effectively and fairly interesting, if not exactly exciting. The acting? Forget it. Still, it was neat to see Canadian B-movie vet Nicholas Campbell (FAST COMPANY, THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME) show up as Echavarria's coach.
The Lionsgate DVD presents UNRIVALED in a sharp, 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and 5.1 sound. Bonus features include an audio commentary by the director and producer, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and interviews with movie's featured fighters.
UNRIVALED is nothing special as a film, but MMA fans might enjoy seeing their favorite competitors battling it out in the make-believe world of the movie.