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Ultimate Fights
DVD disk
ULTIMATE FIGHTS is a compilation of sixteen high energy fights from any kind of movie you desire. Fistfights, swordfights, gunfights, water balloon fights and more! OK... so there aren't really any water balloon fights but still...you get the picture. Put in your mouth guard, lace up your gloves and get ready for some pain!
Compilations like these are truly an homage to character development in movies, or preferably, the lack thereof. It's amazing how even hardcore fight fans like me will lose interest in a fight if we don't really care about the guys fighting. So without the setup to the fight, the fight is nothing more than a well choreographed ass-whipping dance and yet, what a dance it is... This compilation includes scenes from the following films: Rumble in the Bronx, Blade, Fist of Legend, SNATCH, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, Scarface, Legend of Drunken Master, Crossing the Line, The Player's Club, GLADIATOR, Timecop, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, They Live, Black Mask, First Blood and THE KILLER.

As you can see, this is a most unusual salad of films and depending on what you're into, it will either "do it" for you, or it won't. The problem is that if you've seen the movies from which they're cut, you might get a kick out of it, although obviously not as much as if you'd witnessed the whole build-up. But if you haven't seen the film, then it's pretty hard to get into it without knowing about the characters. If you're interested in the technical aspects of choreographing film fights, then you'll definitely wet your pants over this one, but it's not really for the casual movie fan who likes to see people beat each other to pulps on film.

Of course, some of them leave a bitter taste in your mouth. The Player's Club scene is obviously there just to put in a scene of two girls fighting. Unfortunately, the fighting is as bad as those two poor girls are ugly and believe me...they're ugly! On a better note, it's nice to see some of the older films like First Blood and They Live put up some serious contention to the quicker paced, yet more fantasized Honk Kong style stuff. It was also nice to see Pacino shoot up the town with his Little Friend from Scarface. Some of the newer stuff like Crouching Tiger and Gladiator where also a most welcome addition. The production values of the DVD are pretty damn good though, with attractive menus and nice intros to each of the fight, I can see how this might easily become a guilty pleasure or one of those things you pop in when you're getting trashed with a bunch of your friends.
Well, what can I say...I had a blast watching the extras on this DVD, all of which are fun and well-made, with barely any throwaways. You start off the fun with one of my favorite type of features: trivia. Flix Facts Movie Trivia is a running trivia bar at the bottom of each scene giving you the lowdown on the actors, the scenes, the movies and all kinds of other goodies. I've seen some DVDs where this kind of thing appears once every twelve scenes to tell you how cold it was on that day of filming and other useless drivel, but this one is packed. The information doesn't stop and it's actually pretty neat stuff to know. For example, can you imagine what Rambo would have become if DeNiro had been cast into the title role as originally planned?

Next up is a neat featurette called "Behind the Punches". Hosted by "Hollywood Fight Master" James Lew, you can get a step-by-step lesson on how to stage an actual movie fight, including tips on props, punches, kicks and makeup, along with sound effects and other cool things. If that isn't enough, you get some input by coke addict and overall wash-up Jean-Claude Van Damme. The "Muscles From Brussels" gives you his two bits and the laughable close-ups on his face reveal that obviously, some of his fellow actors didn't listen to James Lew and really punched him in the face. Unless of course, they did listen to James Lew...interesting...

"Fight Cards / Fight Master" is your next stop. This feature-length banana will give you an opening statement for each scene. The Fight Card will give you some info, such as the reason for the fight (the grudge), each combatants' fighting style, the weapons used and some boxing-style stats about the fight. Once you're through with that, you'll move on to the scene itself, with a running Fight Master commentary by James Lew. He's a pretty insightful guy and he comments quite successfully on the fight strategy, the fighting style, the filmmaking aspect of the fight and everything else you can think about. The guy is damn articulate and he really knows what he's talking about. There's also another commentary track on the DVD, this one by legendary Hong Kong director/producer Tsui Hark (The Killer, Iron Monkey). He'll tag along on every scene and comment on what he sees. I appreciate the fact that he also gave props to Hollywood fight styles rather than dissing them in favor of the Hong Kong stuff. They both have their merits.

The next feature is a text-based listing of Fighter Profiles, giving you information on some of the actors kicking each others asses in the clips you'll see. Pretty neat, although some of the main guys were missing but I guess as long as Rowdy Roddy Piper's bio is there, I can't complain. That's followed by the "Ultimate Rumble Techno Mix". You can go through all the clips again with some piped techno music moving to the rhythm of the fights. For the benefit of this review and of our readers, I tried to simulate ideal conditions for viewing this by getting drunk off my ass and inviting a bunch of guys over. Needless to say, it was enjoyable, not only because of the drunkenness, but also because the techno mix was very cool.

If you're still standing following that, you can try your hand at the "Name That Frame" game. A slot machine-like wheel spins and stops on a frame, where you'll have to pick the matching fight from which it was cut. It's pretty fun, and you should watch for the vomiting sound when you get a wrong answer. (example: "Is Van Damme still cool?" "Uh... yeah... I guess..." "WRONG! *bleecchhh*"). After that, you can cool down by watching some of the original theatrical trailers from the movies involved. There are also some DVD-ROM features which I don't have the equipment to check out, but according to the pamphlet, they include some trivia games, downloadable sound effects and more cool stuff. Check it out if you can...
Overall, this can turn out into a pretty cool party thing to have around, but I can see how someone can get pretty tired of just watching the fights themselves. Fortunately, this DVD is jam-packed with extras and you can have hours of fun with those. I can't really rate it as a "buy", simply because of the low re-watch value, but it should definitely be rented by anyone who really cares about fights!
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