By: Cam Sully
Plot: Zoey (MMA fighter Melissa Croden), an up and coming mixed martial arts fighter, gives up her dream of fighting in a worldwide mixed martial arts tournament to fight in the seedy, underground world of mixed martial arts fighting after her father, Javier (Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers), is killed by the Russian mob associated with the underground fighting world. She battles a lot of fighters in many different venues to get the ultimate fight, a fight with the people responsible for her father’s death.
Review: So long-story short, this delivers for fabs of the B-movie cast and for mixed martial arts fighting films. As you can tell from the above summary, Casper doesn’t make it to the end credits bit he still gets in a decent fight scene and still appears in training videos he left behind for his daughter throughout the film. Lochlyn Munro (Unforgiven) appears as a supporting help to the protagonist and does his usual jerky humor act. I don’t think I’ve seen him ever play anything else besides this persona come to think of it. Corinne Van Ryck de Groot was lovely as the other supporting trainer to the protagonist and was a natural fit for this production having also previously been a fighter. B-movie regular Gianni Capaldi, who has worked various times with the likes of Eric Roberts and Dolph Lundgren, has varied in everything I’ve ever seen himand felt a little mediocre here with his questionable line delivery. If anything, they should’ve gotten those other two recurring co-stars of his instead, if not Vinnie Jones or Udo Kier. Either way, he was not a stand-out or well-cast but fortunately had less screen-time. He wasn’t even the main villain so what do I care? Some of the other Russian mob performers seemed to over-exaggerate in their accents a bit but since they consistently stuck to those expressions and ran with it as opposed to cringeworthy scenery chewing, it was hardly a quibble to have. If anything they were going for restrained yet minor over-the-top moments while ensuring that this film wasn’t trashy while obviously not acting like it had to be A-grade either.
Lead actress Croden had a natural acting screen presence and delivered the fighting demands. None of her dialogue was stale or delivered poorly, and she was able to carry the film half the time. I wouldn’t mind her getting some of the other VOD action offers that otherwise goes to the likes of Gina Carano or Bautista. The filmmakers have worked on various B-pictures wether it’s crime flicks or Lifetime filler but this felt rather accessible and didn’t have any budget restrictions overall. The film itself occasionally got repetitive but never dragged. It won’t be unwelcome on DVD/Blu Ray hoarders looking to fill their shelves with other low-rent kung fu and underground fighting flicks. It will likely be a one-time watch unless you want to resee some of the fights, which fortunately have some realistic looking scars and even a brief bone-shattering through the skin moment! It can also be streamed on Showtime on demand so you can also decide if it’s worth a look there.
Consensus: An overfamiliar tale yet always engaging thanks to giving the amount of competent filming, decent acting, the expected revenge-fueled action and never dragging.