Determination, fortitude, and strong character – are the qualities necessary for every competitor of mixed martial arts. Boxing cinema has enjoyed a lot of audience interest for years, so it’s no wonder that movies about MMA fights have exploded recently, even reaching the UK. While waiting for the next edition of Undisputed with Scott Adkins (because it has to be created, right?), We have prepared a list of the best MMA films. The order on the list is random
Martial arts in the cinema. The best MMA movies
Champion 2 (2006), dir. Isaac Florentine
Sequel to 2002 ‘s Undisputed, this time without Wesley Snipes. Instead of him, in the foreground we have Michael Jaia White, taking over the baton from his colleague. White, who is a master of martial arts and a great karate player, is doing really well on the screen, but the star of the sequel is another new addition – we are talking, of course, about Scott Adkins, who makes his debut here as Uri Boyka, a real “butcher” of the ring for his opponents.
We saw Boyka later in the following productions: Undisputed 3: Redemption and Undisputed 4: Fight for freedom, where Adkins already played a more prominent role. The entire series is now a classic of MMA cinema and probably the greatest success on the current murder scene.
Warrior (2011), dir. Gavin O’Connor
Tom Hardy as an ex-commando who decides to take part in an MMA tournament to get the support of his father-coach. Critics praised The Warrior for his melee scenes and compared him to the older Rocky, and Nick Nolte (Hardy’s screen father) was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. Cinema expert Roger Ebert even wrote that The Warrior is “one of the few boxing films where viewers support both fighters in the fight to win.”
The film turned out to be such a hit that two of its unofficial remakes were made: the Indian Brothers (2015) and the Russian The Warrior ( Воин ) from the same year. However, the version of Alexei Andrianow is worth writing off – her average rating on the IMDb website is… 2/10.
DOA: Dead or Alive (2006), dir. Corey Yuen
Probably the most camp position in this rating – maybe even unintentionally. The film is based on a series of games of the same title that were published by Tecmo / Team Ninja. Four exceptionally attractive women meet during a mixed martial arts tournament on an isolated island. Each will do anything to beat the rest and take home $ 10 million.
Kasumi (Devon Aoki) is a ninja princess, Tina (Jaime Pressly) knows wrestling like no other, Christie (Holly Valance) is a ruthless killer, and Helena (Sarah Carter) is considered an extreme sports champion. All actresses not only impress with their beauty, but also perform well in the roles of tough warriors. Pressly – known for her comedy roles, incl. in the parody This is not another comedy for morons and the sitcom Mommy – but he wins this duel and steals the show from under his nose for his friends.
Ring of Death (2008), dir. Bradford May
That movie that Johnny Messner proved to be able to slap in the ring, but doesn’t necessarily impress as an actor. Before 2008, Messner had grown into an action star – in The Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid and The Power of Fear with Paul Walker, he looked like a young Stallone . After that, it only got worse, as exemplified by Bloody Ring – a Russian-American TV film that was shown in the US on Spike.
It does not work in the Ring Messner, but the whole thing can be a good encore during a boxing movie night – it’s a suggestion for a good second film, to watch, for example, after Champion . The fighting scenes are suitably bloody, every now and then the audience is cheered by attractive models, and Stacy Keach overshadows the main character as a sadistic prison warden.
Never back down (2008), dir. Jeff Wadlow
It is hard to find a more literal, but also meaningful and truthful title – Wadlow’s film tells about nothing else than the world of underground battles and illegal, strong impressions. The brutality of the MMA industry is met by the main character, Jake (Sean Faris), who, however, after his first loss, rises with dignity and goes under the wings of a certain Jean Roqu (Djimon Hounsou) – a master of mixed fighting style. Strenuous training will bring the young fighter to a pedestal.
On the one hand, cliches, on the other – forged gold. Seemingly undemanding roles, but played masterfully (Hounsou, Faris, Cam Gigandet). Amber Heard takes her first acting steps in the background. No wonder there were as many as three sequels (the first two with Michael Jaie White).
The best movies about mixed martial arts
Underdog (2019), dir. Maciej Kawulski
One of the first Polish productions in which the subject of MMA was discussed. The film was directed by Maciej Kawulski, the co-owner of the KSW federation, and Mamed Khalidow was in a supporting role. He did not play himself and did not appear on the screen for half a minute – he managed to create a fighter out of flesh and blood. Better than the international KSW champion in light heavyweight, however, is Eryk Lubos, who plays the main and title role.
Borys is a ring star who loses everything after losing a fight. He loses himself and hits rock bottom, but, like any master, he takes up a fight for his old life. Underdog is a film about sacrifice and the eternal struggle with adversity, and Lubos is doing equally well as both an actor and a mixed martial artist. The later Polish Fighter with Mikołaj Roznerski went much less.
Street Warrior (2008), dir. David Jackson
Warrior again – but this time with Max Martini in the lead role. Do not be fooled by the generic title: it is a good position in the canon of activists about men fighting for honor. Martini plays an Iraqi war veteran who discovers that his brother has fallen into a coma. He broke into illegal clubs and ended up miserably. The protagonist wants to take revenge on those who hurt the person closest to him.
Fighting (2009), dir. Dito Montiel
Channing Tatum as a young boy who is looking for a better path in life and is recruited by a street-fighting veteran (Terrence Howard). The actor may look more like a model than a tough fighter from the MMA club, but in his role he fares better than the mischievous ones could have predicted. The melee sequences seem realistic, the buddy plot is sold well, there is no shortage of blood, testosterone and a huge dose of fun.
Here Comes the Boom
At the close, the only record on the Happy Madison label. In the film produced by Adam Sandler’s studio, Kevin James appears as a high school teacher who finds an unusual way to support his school – he begins his career as an MMA fighter.
The mixed martial arts comedy has garnered mixed reviews, but one cannot be denied: James has charisma and has not hesitated to use it. It’s a featherweight film, but the filmmakers don’t lack heart, and audiences won’t run out of reasons to laugh. In the cast, you will also see Salma Hayek, Greg Germann, and Polish fighter Krzysztof Soszyński.