Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
Chee Keong Cheung
What's it about
Twelve fighters gather for the pleasure of rich jerks to square off for a million bucks in an illegal fight competition.
Is it good movie?
If you read the above synopsis, itís not tough to figure out how generic this movie is. After all, the tournament plot seems like the center of all kung-fu type movies. From Enter the Dragon to Lionheart to Kickboxer to Karate Kid, Underground combines all these elements for yet another contest battle and then mixes in UFC, reality TV, and Street Fighter. How does Underground differ from the rest? Well, mainly it differs from having no main characters or development ro story. The fighters fight and are given mini-bios told Oz style, quick 30 second clips that define what makes the person tick. It does as little as possible to create 2-D characters. Hell, at least in crappy Lionheart Van Damme has a background, a guy people can root for even though he wears pants up to his nipples. Undergroundís characters are as generic as the cheapest fighting games with names like The Homeless, The Ex-Con, The Soldier, The Priest, and so on. They all wear uniforms; the Cop even sports a tie. Why the hell would a guy fight in a tie? Sure, it completes the look, but a tie? Talk about asking for an ass beating. Or the Preacher. Would a man of the cloth enter a fight wearing his gear?
Director/writer Chee Keong Cheung missed a golden opportunity to develop the characters by forcing them all to live together and train together. However, instead of showing interaction with dinner or fighter over a dropped toothbrush, their screen time consists of training and watching each other train. Only two interact, the Foreigner and the Delinquent. And they most they do is one of them gets a girlís number for the other. Even the gamblers are paper-thin; theyíre just rich people with a thirst for blood. To go back to Lionheart, it least it had hateful villains and you looked forward to their downfall. But here, these people each get two fighters and if they lose, they go home sans their bets. No big loss except for ego. Whatís a stake if no one cares? The fighters donít even care. Stick in an undercover agent or a kidnapped fighter forced to go at it to stir things up.
What Underground does right is what youíd expect: the fights. A brawl occurs every ten minutes or so and there are plenty of them in the 90-minute run time. They beat the hell out of each, but I have to admit it all got a little stale. With no one to give a damn about, itís tough to care who wins and who loses. They just fight. One guy raises his hand while the other lies on the ground. I didnít even find the scenes overly bloody. Of modern film, Fight Club stands as one of the brutal and realistic fight movies. Now that I think of it, if youíre in need of blood, go watch that and get a few characters with it.
Video / Audio
Audio: 5.1 Surround Sound
Video: 16 x 9 Widescreen
Deleted Scenes: Ten minutes worth, but the best comes from all the characters arriving at the gym and getting a word from the big boss man.
Anatomy of a Fight Scene: No discussion of the scene, just behind the scenes look at the actors rehearsing the fights at a slow pace.
Behind the Scenes: Everyone is dead serious discussing the movie and their fighting skills. Somewhat interesting but full of it when discussing the Ďgreatí characters.
Underground isnít a bad movie, itís just not overly interesting. The fights look good and the black eyes look like they hurt, but itís all so hollow. Now if Van Damme had starredÖ