As a kid I saw Kung Fu the TV show, Bruce Lee films, Chuck Norris films, and classic KF flicks as well as the Ninja stuff, this left a strong impression on me, and as I grew older I got into the martial arts action flicks primarily from the early 90s. I'm talking JCVD, Steven Seagal, Don the Dragon, and Olivier Gruner. So now I enter into the modern day era with this new breed of MA action hero with MMA stars doing B-movies. This one stars "American Psycho" UFC fame, Stephan Bonnar. Let me get this out of the way and say that the women in this film are not my type so the eye candy did nothing for me. If you like strippers with fake boobs and strip clubs then you will enjoy the eye candy. Even though there is a lot of this kind of stuff, the rest of the film is done well enough that I wasn't turned off. I was very glad to see the guest appearances by MMA stars, Sokoudjou, and Gilbert Melendez. Oleg Taktarov also makes a brief cameo appearance, which was nice to see if your a classic UFC fan. Still, the other fighters whom I did not recognize, did a great job, and I found the fight scenes to be entertaining, they were well done, high/real skill, and unique. We definitely get MMA style action, flying knees, Muay Thai kicks, and grappling moves. I like this evolution, I am very impressed with the fight scenes, I'd almost say near perfect, really I cannot give it a high enough praise. One crazy scene was when Gilbert gets hit with a Dim Mak and then Stephan has to give him CPR. We also see the Big Daddy Gary Goodridge crucifix-elbow finish from UFC 8.
Stephan does a great job with the fighting, as for his acting, I think his sense of humor shows and one time he really sounded like Arnold saying something along the lines of "come on let's go now!" I can almost here the next line, run!!! to the chopper!!! Stephan really is big and almost like another Arnold, except he brings different tools to the table.
The main villain was played by Daniel Bernhardt from Blood Sport 2 and overall he does a good job. I wish in the end they gave him a special body suit or something like a Batman suit, to make things a bit more fair.
Overall the story is good imo, I like how they added that Lucian was dying, it may not necessarily make sense at times, for example Stephan's character is a guy who won the congressional medal of honor, and his whole purpose was to recuse his ex, she runs away in the woods, and he abandons her, doesn't seem like something his character would do. The story started off a bit slow and I was not happy about that however, it impresses. I mean there has been dozens of MA action movies made and all the plots start to become similar, well this one starts off very predictable and then manages to reinvent itself. So the story at first, I wasn't satisfied with, but now it's earned my respect. It starts off with a girl who is in distress, she's bad news and you figure he is gonna be running with her, while they send killers after her, OK, we've seen films like that, it can be alright, but no, they instantly get captured, and just like that it turns into a martial arts tournament film where the main character is forced to compete, just when you think that is going on, it then turns into the "Deadliest Game" story where the main characters are now hunted in the forest. So in a way it crosses genre just like the sport of MMA, Mixed Martial Arts, very appropriate since it has a MMA star as the hero. So to me this film is successful and I hope it becomes the blue print to more films like this.
My verdict is: Pleasantly surprised!
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