Struggling actor Wesley Snipes takes on Ving Rhames in a prison boxing movie called 'Undisputed', and that pretty much sums up everthing.
Snipes stars as a convicted murderer who has been in prison for ten years. Over that time, he has risen to and defended time and time again his role as boxing champion among the various prisons in the area. He is the undisputed champion. That is until the heavyweight champion of the world (Rhames) is brought in after being convicted for raping a woman. The rest of the movie leads up to a fight that the movie claims is about honesty, but is really nothing more than about dignity.
For obvious reasons, I wasn't expecting much from 'Undisputed' and I didn't get much, but it was a little better than the previews let on.
Unfortunately, that doesn't say much.
The main problem with 'Undisputed' is the characters. Ving Rhames plays a man undoubtedly meant to portray Mike Tyson, and the movie constantly tries to emphasize just how much of a bad ass he is. He has no respect for anything, especially his conviction, and acts as though he owns the place. That is all fine and good, but the so-called hero of the movie, Snipes, is given no character development whatsoever. He is given much less screen time than Rhames yet is treated like the savior of the prison. A brief flashback explains why he is in prison, but other than that we don't get to know him in the least. And we're supposed to root for him?
Secondly, the direction is terrible. The worst kinds of films are the ones that think they are a lot better than they really are. 'Undisputed' thinks it is some high-class drama when it is actually just a cheesy action movie with a lot of boring scenes in between fights. Director Walter Hill has everything from slow-motion shots to black-and-white filters, though these "special effects" really do nothing to help the film. Furthermore, his fight sequences are awful. We watch much of the fighting from far away, so it never feels as though we should be involved in the movie. The angles are bad, and the fights just don't look that intense. The final fight sequence has a few highlights, but that is about it.
Finally, the ending is just terrible. After all is said and done, nothing is resolved. Everything goes back to how it was, and so no one learns a lesson and the movie just feels incomplete. Yes, 'Undisputed' is half-heartedly criticizing the many returns of Mike Tyson, but let's face it - this is no award-winner. It isn't in a position to be criticizing anything.
'Undisputed' is nowhere as bad as I was fearing it was going to be, but it never rises above boring and lame. 'Undisputed' is an undisputed loser.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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