REVIEW: Undisputed (2002) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Undisputed (2002)

Run Time: 96 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: Very well aged Walter Hill movie, Ving Rhames at his best

People now know the Undisputed series as a Scott Adkins property, probably fairly.  But a lot of people probably forget the first film that spawned the series.  With Ving Rhames fighting Wesley Snipes and beating up other cons in the showers when he’s not, and support from the likes of Michael Rooker and a foul mouthed Peter Falk, this show is egregiously manly.

The films sees Ving Rhames play The Champ, George ‘The Iceman’ Chambers, who is sent to prison after supposedly raping a woman.  A clear riff on the Mike Tyson rape hoax, Chambers declares his innocence yet nonetheless takes his licks like a man.  More than a man, in fact — Chambers is The Champ, and soon declares himself ruler of the Pen; “Ain’t but one champ in here!”, he boasts, as it is put to him that Monroe Hutchens (Wesley Snipes) is the actual champ.  By prison code anyway.  Naturally, the only way to settle it is a fight, and mob boss Mendy Ripstein (Peter Falk) is just the man to set it up.

Back in the day when this came out, you couldn’t really root for one or the other over Ving Rhames or Wesley Snipes.  Watching it again recently, my clear favorite is George ‘The Iceman’ Chambers.  Chambers offers pissant convicts free punches at his face, because ‘it ain’t ‘gon hurt him none’, while also casually walking up to the pseudo champ and slapping him in the face (but only after he has finished eating his fruit snack), even though such an action would in theory get him killed.  Ving Rhames chews up scenery in the film and plays the role perfectly.  Snipes is also fun as the stoic Hutchens.

The fights are also fairly good.  Pre-shaking cam mania, you see and digest every punch and hit.  I also like the back/forth between Rhames and Wes Studi, playing The Iceman’s only friend in the prison.  The film is ludicrously testosterone-driven, but Rhames knows how to also tone it down when necessary.  Nice to see Columbo use probably some of the most dense use of the words ‘fuck, fucker and fucking’ ever in a character’s dialogue too.

You know, this film was directed and written by Walter Hill.  Boy, does Hill know how to make a movie for guys.  No intrusive romantic subplot, just sheer alpha chutzpah, violence and hilarious dialogue.  Is this the best film in the series?

Can Walter Hill do no wrong?