Little Box of Horrors: Boyka: Undisputed 4
This time around, I am at the Scarborough Walmart, seeking a new challenger. Can a bevy of fight movies rejuvenate my flagging resolve? Don’t bet on it.
Never Give Up, Never Back Down
It’s been a minute since I last wandered out in search of good-bad movies. Maybe it’s because all I find are bad-bad movies. Possibly it’s because I have a MoviePass now and can see new releases for free. Probably it’s because RedBox hasn’t sent me a coupon for a free movie in awhile. But they did, so here we go, back in the ring again. Let’s round up our challengers!
- Bad Frank (2017): Surprisingly, this movie is about a troubled fighter getting dragged back into underground fights. I could have sworn this was going to be about Billy Bob Thornton impersonating a mall Frank to pull off a heist. Oh well.
- Boyka: Undisputed 4 (2016): You only get to make one movie about being undisputed before you are, ipso facto, very much disputed.
- Female Fight Squad (2016): Oh Hell No, Dolph Lundgren, you aren’t fooling me again.
All right! I’ve got my wrist wraps on (for better typing), so let’s get ready to rumble!
Boyka: Undisputed 4 (2016)
Yuri Boyka (Scott Adkins) is one of the most dangerous fighters in the world (so I’m told). An escapee of an underground Russian Prison Fight Club (You do NOT talk about underground Russian Fight Club, tovarisch), Boyka has been fighting in penny ante fights, looking for a shot at the big time. He’s also been reconnecting with his faith, atoning for his previous sins while quite contentedly racking up new ones. A chance appears when European MMA Scouts attend his next match. A good performance is his ticket to the big time. Boyka aims to put on a show.
… Which he does by killing his opponent. Oops! Wracked by guilt, Boyka travels to a small town in Russia to seek the forgiveness of his opponent’s wife. There he learns that she lives as a virtual slave to the local gangster. Boyka must win a series of fights in the mobsters above-ground underground fight club to secure her freedom. He must do this in just one week, if he hopes to make it to his MMA pro-debut. And you thought you had a busy week!
Do You Know What Undisputed Means?
Undisputed was originally an American prison-fight movie starring Ving Rhames and Wesley Snipes. They then moved Ving’s character to a new actor and a new locale, Russia. Here we meet Yuri Boyka for the first time in Undisputed 2. He’s been disputing his undisputed status ever since. The franchise also transitioned from boxing to MMA, which I have to imagine was a pretty good decision.
Seeing as the Undisputed franchise has lost any star power it had (and in 2002, Rhames and Snipes were quite disputable B-Listers), it decided to bring in people who could actually fight. And you better believe me boy-ka, Scott Adkins can fight. Adkins is a Judo and Tae Kwon Do martial artist, and he got his acting break doing Kung Fu flicks with such legendary choreographers as Yuen Wo-Ping and Sammo Hung. He’s even pal’ed around with Jackie Chan and Jean Claude Van Damme! Also, he looks like a dumpster full of drop kicks, which doesn’t hurt.
The action in Boyka Undisputed is pretty damn good. It’s also constant. This isn’t Rocky, where we get two fights, tops. Boyka is constantly going eyebrows to knuckles. The fights tend to trade on Tae Kwon Do’s flashy kicks, but you get competent boxing and a smattering of grapples, judo throws, and even some WWF style slams to round out the violence. I can’t say the action had me on an Adrenaline high, but it was very entertaining, and helped move the film along in a way that kept me engaged. Which is vital, as the story is generic, late-night USA channel rubbish.
Boyka Undisputed is incredibly rote. If you’ve ever seen anything with Lorenzo Lamas or JCVC, you’re all set with the story here. The movie makes no attempt at gussying any of the tropes up either. Widow hates him. Widow starts to open up to him. And predictably, widow begins to root for him. The ending conversation between the two scored a TKO on me by making my eyes roll back up into my head.
Similarly, the acting is nothing special. Adkins’ “I’m a Brittain trying to speak Russian-ified English” is groan worthy, and everyone else is just a cliché. This movie may be about prison convicts, but anyone looking for a Shawshank Redemption is just going to get a shank.
Speak of redemption, I wanted to single out the whole redemption arc for a special tongue(keyboard?) lashing. For a man of such inscrutable faith, Boyka sure doesn’t mind lavishing violence upon everyone he meets. He even kills… again! Sure, it was a bad guy, but c’mon man? Are you gonna go do some Hail-Mary-Haymakers for that mobster’s family in Undisputed 5?
Back to the Gulag for Boyka
The action in Boyka Undisputed is the saving grace of this movie. Everything else is trash. That it constantly moves from fight to fight is a necessity, one that keeps this movie from being unwatchable. That said, I can’t say I’m rooting for Boyka to make a return. I heard that the choreography in Undisputed 2 was even better than 3 or 4, so maybe they should have quit while they were ahead. Also, Adkin’s Boyka was the baddy in that one, so maybe his repentant-unrepentant killing machine worked better there too.
If you want nothing but good fights, Boyka Undisputed might be worth the low price of admission. If you wanted a story or characters you could empathize with, steer clear. This character’s one bad vyrozhdat’sya.