If we could settle all the worlds problems in an underground fighting tournament annually, I truly believe the world would be a better and safer place to live...Hey I can have this kind of optimism alright! Over the years of watching many martial arts and action movies, I have always had a soft spot for the underground fighting tournaments, because they were so secretive and you always knew shit was going to go down in these tournaments. I always loved seeing the different kind of fighters which were used in these movies, because you got to see their style and how they compared to our protagonist.
I watched a lot of these movies under my older brothers strict supervision...Okay he was 4 years older than me! But still, even as a kid, watching these kind of movies I felt so badass, because I was watching all these fighters, fight in secret clubs and no one was allowed to know. And the 5 year old Jade would be thinking 'Oh wow, no one knows these guys are fighting except for me, I am so lucky'...I would say for a couple of years I could have possibly thought that underground fighting movies were actually documentaries.
I have always found that these types of movies, have always been the most brutal and the most violent. It makes sense though when you really think about it. You are in a secret location, that only fighters, drug dealers, and their coked up girlfriends know where it is. So you may as well go all out as a fighter. You may as well split open somebody's shin just like Bolo did to Michel Qissi in Bloodsport. And I also like the premise that if you lose the fight you die. Now that was shown most brutally in one of my all time favourite American Martial Arts movies, To the Death. Seriously people do not judge the cover art of the picture, it is something you all need to watch and love. Sure it isn't the greatest in terms of production but the story is there and there is a lot of heart. And the story is great so there is a lot to work with, if executives ever did decide to remake it.
This brings me onto Mortal Kombat, a video game film franchise which does deserve to be remade. I really do love the original film, and I even have a soft spot for the sequel...I feel so many judgemental eyes now looking at me. But the concept of this movie is brilliant. You got fighters from all sorts of places, coming together to fight and kill one another.The fighters in this movie all have a quest, which all differ from another. But once they are there, their attention turns to Shang Tsung, and how they need to destroy everyone in their path, to get to that BADASS MOTHERFUCKER. I remember when I first saw this film, and I am pretty sure I had a huge crush on Scorpion after this...Not because of looks but because of his fighting skill. This is the sort of film, which is loved by many but criticised by even more. The acting isn't up to scratch but that doesn't matter because the only two actors in this film that I care about is Christopher Lambert and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. I think the one liners are amazingly cheesy but I love them, the choreography was kickass, but would have been more awesome to see it be a fuck load more brutal. But obviously they wanted kids to be able to see it. If the remake finally happens for the new Mortal Kombat movie, it needs to be an R. I am pretty sure all the true Mortal Kombat fans are over the age of 18, since we all grew up with it in the 1990's, so they would have no problem making money off it.
Wrong Bet AKA Lionheart, is one of the first underground fight movies that I saw. As you all know, I do love Van Damme, so I couldn't leave this out. I love the integrity of his character Leon, and how he will go and fight all this vicious and evil bastards, just so he can win money for his dead brother's wife. I find that with these kind of movies, the protagonist has several reasons to go underground, and fight to the death. These are revenge, to help out a family member, they get kidnapped and have to fight their way out, or they are sent there by the CIA, or they just want to be a badass and kick the shit out of people.
If you have seen Wrong Bet, you will see Leon's journey in underground fighting, and how he is an asset to these scumbags! And when our hero realises that these scumbags have a lot of money riding on them, and they are just basically using them, that is when they go back onto the good side, and that is when shit gets real. You will see these seemingly 'nice' people who have taken you under their wing, turn against you. It's the only natural progression of the story.
As I was saying there are several reasons why someone goes into one of this tournaments. And revenge and helping out a family member just goes hand in hand. In Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor we see just that. Tong Po had kidnapped David Sloane's wife, and she has been in captive for several years. Now while the concept is pretty good, it will never be as good as the original, or even the sequel, Kickboxer 2: The Road Back. In this fourth instalment, we see some average choreography, and you would think the final fight between Sloane and Tong Po would be pretty awesome...but no. They don't really fight much to be honest, it's not epic battle like it was in the first 2 Kickboxer movies. It was rushed, boring, no flair and just overall a let down. Tong Po is fucking vicious, he is evil, he doesn't give a fuck about anyone but himself, and he wouldn't think twice about his actions. And in this he just seemed pathetic and lame. BRING BACK VAN DAMME AND QISSI!! This is one of those underground fighting films where the concept was good, but it was just badly executed.
Undefeatable which stars our favourite heroine Cynthia Rothrock, isn't exactly an underground fighting movie...BUT, she does fight in a fight club, which keeps getting broken up by the cops. She is just trying to earn some god damn money for her sister. And even though these fight scenes within the fight club aren't a huge part of the film, the choreography is still pretty awesome. This woman can fight, she has mad skills, and I would put her up there with my martial arts heroes like Bruce Lee, Van Damme, Donny Yen etc. But this goes back to my point on why people get into these fight clubs or tournaments, our heroes usually have a reason to do this, and her case it's helping out her sister so she can go to college.
Before I get into anything else I just need to say one thing. UNDISPUTED III IS FUCKING BRUTAL AND YOU ALL NEED TO SEE IT! This is the third instalment to the Undisputed franchise, and it is by far the best. I loved the fact that it was a Boyka story. Sure he was awesome, in the second film, but it was so much more cooler seeing his perspective on this underground jail fighting tournaments. This film is about bringing together the worlds deadliest fighters from different prisons. And sure enough we get some worthy opponents. But seriously do they really think they can beat Boyka? In the second film Boyka loses to Chambers which I don't think he should have but hey since he was the bad guy in that film, they obviously have to keep to a formula. Now seeing him partially crippled and no longer the 'big dog' in prison, you just want to see him train and get back into the ring...and he does! He is slightly reformed and has turned to religion, and he has definitely wised up to everything and no longer sees himself as a puppet to these sick individuals who organise these fights. This film has some of the best fight choreography I have seen in years. Scott Adkins is seriously an underrated fighter and even more underrated actor. There isn't many guys who can fight and act really strongly, but he can do both with such ease! This is probably one of my favourite martial arts movies of all time. It has a great concept of the underground fighting tournaments as well as badass characters, brutal fight scenes, and the acting is pretty awesome and solid. Do not listen to haters, this is seriously awesome!!!
And all this has brought me to the best underground fighting tournament movie of all time. ENTER THE DRAGON! This is one of my favourite films of all time. No matter how many times I watch this, I never get sick of it. When I was 16 this was on heavy rotation in my VHS player, and after watching this over and over, it really helped me develop my love for martial art movies but also what to look for in terms of great fight choreography. There is not a dull scene in this film, and the storyline is exceptionally strong, and everyone can act well enough. Bruce Lee is great in this because he is pretty stealth in terms of him going undercover and spying on Han, a dangerous crime lord. We all know what the best scene is, and that is the final fight between Lee and Han. It was extremely well shot, and very beautifully I might add. But it was eerie, and creepy because you just never knew which mirror Han was lurking behind. This final scene showed some of the most finest martial art choreography I have ever seen in a film. This film has a lot of eeriness surrounding it because while Han seems extremely accommodating to his fighters, you just can't help but feel there is some bad shit happening behind the scenes, and you are just waiting for shit to get real. And boy does it get real.
These movies I have referenced, are just a few of the many underground fighting movies that have been made. There is seriously tonnes. And while some of them can be made and not executed very well, there is a lot of them that are out there, which need to get recognised for how kickass and brutal they are. After seeing these kind of movies, it does make me wonder if there is actual underground fighting tournaments. I know there would be a lot of people saying, 'Jade stop watching so many movies, this shit can't happen in real life'. Well to that I say I disagree and I wouldn't be surprised if this shit did happen. There are a lot of sick individuals out there who have all sorts of weird interests, and a lot of people in desperate need of money and revenge. I would say that is a perfect reason to start one of these tournaments. The seed has been planted.