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DID YOU READ

Disc Covering: “Undisputed III: Redemption,” from MMA to action hero.

Disc Covering: “Undisputed III: Redemption,” from MMA to action hero. (photo)

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Direct-to-DVD action movies are like porn. Nobody’s watching for the clever dialogue or nuanced characters. They want the money shots: well-staged, well-performed fight sequences. If they deliver in that department, everything else is gravy.

“Undisputed III: Redemption” has a lot of gravy. Rich, manly gravy.

Literally, the only women who appear in this film are the ones tattooed on the chests of the actors. These guys are tough. How tough? So tough they make their own Bengay out of wildflowers they pick while out on chain gang duty. That’s right: these guys are so manly they make picking wildflowers butch.

These manly dudes are prisoners from around the world, assembled at Gorgon Maximum Security Penitentiary in the Republic of Georgia for an elimination martial arts tournament squarely in the tradition of great Fight-To-The-Death Movies. Since each of the combatants have their own unique fighting style — capoeira, kickboxing, boxing, and so on — it’s sort of like the adaptation of “Street Fighter” that fans of the video game never got.

Wait, you’re telling me there was a “Street Fighter” movie in the mid-1990s? No, there wasn’t. It never happened. It. NEVER. Happened.

06082010_undisputed2.jpg“Undisputed III: Redemption” (2010)
Directed by Isaac Florentine

Tagline: “One deadly tournament. A last fight for freedom.”

Tweetable Plot Synopsis: The villain of “Undisputed II” gets his own movie where he has to beat seven deadly fighters (and one bad knee) in a prison MMA tournament.

Salable Elements: Returning “Undisputed 2” star Scott Adkins, once again playing Russian prisoner and self-proclaimed “most complete fighter in the world” Uri Boyka; the connection to the increasingly popular world of mixed martial arts; the burgeoning “Undisputed” brand, with its promise of testosterone-y prison fight movies.

Biggest Success: The indisputably entertaining fight sequences, particularly any of the ones that feature Adkins and the film’s main heavy, Columbian juicer “Dolor” (Marko Zaror). “Undisputed III”‘s fights — directed by Isaac Florentine, shot by Ross W. Clarkson, and choreographed by Larnell Stovall — are definitely worth the price of admission, or whatever the equivalent expression would be for a rental (the film earned Best Choreography and Best Director awards at the inaugural Action Fest earlier this spring).

Adkins, in particular, glowering and speaking in a convincing (enough) Russian accent, has the onscreen intensity and athleticism to become a legitimate big screen action hero; it’s easy to imagine ranking him with Jason Statham in a few years as the premier action stars of this generation (and hot damn, it would be a lot of fun to see them in a movie together).

Biggest Failure: Though the martial arts sequences in “Undisputed III” are a lot of fun, they suffer from one big drawback, and it’s something that’s infected a lot of action movies of the last decade: way too much use of slow-motion footage. Certainly, slo-mo has its place in fight scenes — it can help you savor the pure visual poetry of the bodies in motion onscreen — but it also takes away from your ability to appreciate the athleticism on display in its raw form.

06082010_undisputed3.jpgThe nice part about DTV action movies is that they’re not burdened by movie stars who need stunt doubles who need to be shot carefully to maintain the illusion that Movie Star X can actually accomplish Movie Stunt Y. “Undisputed III” is anchored by guys like Adkins and Zaror, who don’t need any post-production help to pull off their impressive moves.

So why not let their fights run without post-production help? Adkins and Zaror don’t need slo-mo and speed ramps to make their scenes work, but here they are anyway. Action films like “Undisputed III” that star true athletes work best with a vérité approach: documenting the remarkable feats of their stars. Their physical abilities are all the special effects anyone could ever need.

Best Moment: A theme of improvisation and adaptation runs throughout the film; appropriately so, for a movie made as cheaply and quickly as “Undisputed III” almost certainly was. I was particularly fond of how that idea made its way into Boyka’s training regimens. At the beginning of the film, he’s still recovering from a knee injury suffered in “Undisputed II.” To get back into fighting shape, he puts himself on the “Rocky IV” training plan: strengthening his leg with homemade gym equipment made of wood, rope, and archaic farm implements.

Later, Boyka and his American counterpart Turbo (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) are forced to endure brutal sessions on a chain gang, so the two turn the backbreaking labor into a backbreaking workout (throwing rocks, for example, is a great way to build explosiveness in your arms and back). Apparently, modified slave labor is the way people in Russia like to exercise.

06082010_undisputed4.jpgSpecial Features: Other than a digital copy that you can copy to your iPod on the Blu-ray edition, none whatsoever. There isn’t even a trailer. There isn’t even a scene selection page! It’s a disc fit for the cruel deprivation of the Russian prison system.

Worthy of a Theatrical Release: Not quite — the production values outside the ring are fairly low, and some of the acting from the supporting cast is pretty brutal — but a lot of the participants, particularly Florentine and Adkins, deserve a bigger budget, a better script and a chance to make the leap to the silver screen. In the meantime, they should be proud of what they accomplished with “Undisputed III”: some damn fine action porn.

For Further Viewing: Watch Adkins train for his role as Weapon XI (a.k.a. Deadpool after he got his mouth sewn shut) in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” If Reynolds is too busy making Sandra Bullock movies to man the Deadpool spinoff, they should give Adkins the part. Just let him speak this time.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…