August 2002

Reviewed by Wilson Morales


Distributor: Miramax
Director: Walter Hill
Producers: David Giler, Walter Hill, Brad Krevoy, & Andrew Sugerman
Screenwriter: David Giler & Walter Hill
Music: Stanley Clarke
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames, Peter Falk, Michael Rooker, Ed Lover, Jon Seda, & Master P

Whenever there’s a film based in a prison, somehow a fight scene is inevitable. “Undisputed” is no question, a fight film. What’s interesting about this story is that some may think this resembles the situation of a well-known real life boxer. It doesn’t, but some wonder. The flaws that come with this film are that it’s predictable and undeveloped. There are no redeemable characters. Every one has an angle but it’s not clear. One thing’s for certain, Ving is very believable in his role, and he’s the only thing worth watching in this muddle film.

James “Iceman” Chambers (Rhames) is the undisputed champion of the world who is convicted for the rape of a young woman. Knowing full well that he’s a world-known figure in society, he won’t take crap from anyone. He beats everyone who has any power to let them know he’s in charge. Ten years ago, Monroe Hutchen (Snipes) was a rising boxing star in California. One night, he committed an unintentional crime that got he convicted without the possibility of parole. To keep in shape, he fights in the Inter-prison Boxing Program and has never lost a fight. Sensing a big prizefight in the making, Cuban mobster Emanuel “Mendy” Ripstein, also a prisoner sets the stage for his last big payoff as his health is fading. Iceman is restless, wants out and is willing work with anyone to get his freedom. Monroe just wants to live life and fight, but when money is needed for his family, he too will do to preserve his life and his kin. The stage is set, the audience is drawn, and the real title of “undisputed” is on table. Who will win?

Although the film is engaging and moves at a rapid pace, there are many flaws that can’t go unnoticed. As many characters as there are in the film, there isn’t enough development for them for the audience to feel compassion for them. With the exception of Ving Rhames, whose character is spelled out from the get go, everyone else comes and goes, including Wesley Snipes, and he’s supposed to be the co-star of the film. Director Hill hasn’t been around for a while since he created duds like “Trespass” and “Last Man Standing”. This film is not as bad as those films were. Some actors love to play the villain and Rhames go all out. He holds the together because of the fire and rage he brings to his character. For all the action films Snipes has done, his role here is modest and resigned and not enough of him is showed for the audience to side with him. “Undisputed” is a fun film for anyone who just wants to see the actors fight, but is diluted with plot holes for those who want a film of substance.


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