(Original Publication Date: August 3rd, 2017) By: John M Jerva Review: BOYKA: Undisputed Starring: Scott Adkins, Teodora Duhovnikova, Alon Aboutboul, Brahim Achabbakhe and Martyn Ford Directed By: Todor Chapkanov Official Synopsis: “The high-octane action […]
The Review: It has been a long and hard fought journey to get the next installment of the popular underground fighting franchise known as the UNDISPUTED series back onto store shelves. The third entry came out way back in 2010 but the film was a victim of illegal downloading and the sales numbers were not the greatest to warrant another entry. But never say never and here in 2017, seven long years later, we finally have the fourth entry in the series that chronicles the most complete fighter in the world. Was it worth the wait? Well, if you know me, you know the answer to that question already but if you don’t, them the answer is a resounding YES!!!!! With BOYKA: Undsputed, action sensation Scott Adkins has saved his best for his fans. The film is a riveting tale of redemption and honor and Adkins’ Yuri Boyka has certainly come a long way from the vicious prison fighter we were introduced to in the second film. The movie is also one of the best fight films out there with harrowing choreography that not only showcases the talents of its star but it also highlights those around him. Everyone gave it their all and it shows with the result that we are treated to. Isaac Florentine, who directed the second and third installments serves as a producer on this one and Todor Chapkanov helmed the newest entry. Don’t worry though folks, with Chapkanov, the franchise is in good hands! It doesn’t miss a beat and if anything, it’s the best one to date!
After the events of UNDISPUTED 3: REDEMPTION, Boyka is a free man, even though he can never go back to Russia where he is a wanted man. He is hiding out in the Ukraine where he is competing in underground fights in an effort to get noticed and make it to the big time. There is more to Boyka then just fighting this time around. He may still be vicious in the ring but he is a man of God just like always but now he helps those around him. He uses his winnings to donate to the local church and help improve the neighborhood around him. He is definitely a different person but make no mistake, he is still Boyka. When the chance to make it to the big leagues lands in his lap, Boyka feels that he will finally reach the promised land and be a true champion. During the fight, however, his opponent is killed in the ring and fueled by grief, Boyka searches for the man’s wife to make things right. He finds her in Russia, and Boyka risks his freedom to cross the border and offer his forgiveness. There is only one problem. The widow, who is named Alma(Duhovnikova), owes a lot of money to the local crime lord named Zourab (Aboutboul) and now she is a slave to him in order to pay off the debt. This doesn’t sit well with Boyka and he makes a deal with the devil in an attempt to win her freedom. He must compete in three matches against some of Zourab’s best fighters and he must keep winning in order to wipe her slate clean. Zourab is not an honorable man though and he makes up his own rule as he goes along forcing Boyka to play his game. Zourab will find out, however, that he picked the wrong man to mess with and he will realize that you don’t cross the most complete fighter in the world.
With BOYKA: UNDIPUTED, Adkins returns to his signature role as the Yuri Boyka and this might be one of his best performances to date. He plays Yuri as a tortured soul who feels that it is God’s will for him to fight in the ring. it is God who gave him these gifts so it would be a waste not to use them. When we first met him in UNDISPUTED 2, Boyka was a caged, savage dog (pun intended) who didn’t care who he stepped on to be the best. If you were in the way, you payed the price. Now some years later, Boyka has a different attitude. He still views the man standing across from him in the ring as his enemy but he now knows there is more to life at the same time. It is this change in character that makes Boyka a more layered person this time around. There is a lot more to him now and this makes the film mean that much more. He is still the quintessential anti-hero but he is an anti-hero with a strong code to make things right. The third film in the series was called REDEMPTION but it may be this film that offers true redemption for Boyka and the character comes full circle by the time the credits role.
Once again, Adkins is surrounded by a great supporting cast. Teodora Duhovnikova (CONAN THE BARBARIAN) plays Alma and just like JuJu Chan in SAVAGE DOG, she is the emotional pull for the story. It is her that drives Boyka’s mission of redemption and the scenes between the two of them offer a quiet tenderness that is a welcome change from the carnage in the ring. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the carnage in the ring that make us want to watch but their relationship lifts the film and makes it much more than just a fight film. As the evil crime lord Zourab, Alon Aboutboul is at his slimy best. As the antagonist in LONDON HAS FALLEN, Aboutboul was doing everything because he was stricken with grief over the loss of his daughter. Here, he is just plain bad. There is no redeeming factor what-so-ever for him. You hate him from the very beginning and it only gets worse from there. As the hulking Koshmar, Martyn Ford is only in the film for a short time but he makes his presence felt. He is a freak of nature and the final fight between the two of them is worth the price of admission alone with Adkins dishing out all of his patented moves to satisfy the crowd.
The action in BOYKA: Undisputed is turned up to a whole new epic level. We all know that Adkins is one of the best on screen fighters today but when you thought that you had seen it all, he pulls numerous rabbits out of a hat. You can tell that Adkins put his body through the ringer for this movie and the result is some of the best fight sequences ever. The choreography was done by Tim Man who worked with Adkins in NINJA 2 and he upcoming action films ACCIDENT MAN and TRIPLE THREAT and here he shows that he is one of the best in the business. The action in BOYKA is a stellar combination of gritty, brutal MMA techniques with the flash of Hong Kong style aerial moves. The camera stays with the fighters throughout each fight and you can see the all the wonderful mayhem on display. There are edits in the scenes but they never get in the way of what is going on. What makes the fights so epic is that they switch back and fourth between regular speed and hyper kinetic slo-mo. We will be watching two great fighters going at it in regular speed and then our jaws will drop as Adkins executes one of his gravity defying moves in super slow motion. Adkins is literally a human highlight reel and now we know why he won an award at the recent Jackie Chan Stuntman Awards. There should be a category for this at the Oscars and Adkins should win it every year! These are the type of fight scenes that you cannot describe how awesome they are to somebody. The only way to get your point across is to show them visually what Adkins can do with a fight scene. He is essentially his own special effect in any movie.
Another great aspect of this installment is that we are taken out of the prison setting that was present for the other films. Boyka is now out in the open and it offers more depth to the film. It was also great to see Boyka throwing down in some good ol’ fashion street fights. The scope and range of the film is much bigger this time around and it was certainly refreshing.
To sum it all up, BOYKA: UNDISPUTED was worth the wait. Adkins saved his best for this film and it is an instant classic in the fight film sub genre. With each role, Adkins demonstrates what makes him the best and if anyone ever argues against you just show them this movie. It should shut them up within the first five minutes of run time. I have been a fan of Mr. Adkins since I saw him in SPECIAL FORCES back in 2003 and he has only gotten better with age. He is one of the few actors that I legitimately get hyped up for when I know he has a film coming out. I had a grin on my face from ear to ear the entire time I was watching the film and when it was over, I watched it again. He deserves to be in bigger films and not just in small roles but as the lead. He is that good folks. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again, Scott Adkins is the best onscreen fighter in films today and with BOYKA: UNDISPUTED, he proves that he is the reigning champ of the action genre!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
BOYKA: UNDISPUTED 4 is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital from Universal Home Entertainment