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Thursday, December 13, 2012

FORCED TO FIGHT -- Blu-Ray review by porfle

I haven't seen that many movies featuring kickboxing champion Gary Daniels of THE EXPENDABLES fame, but the ones I have seen (TEKKEN, HUNT TO KILL) were more exciting than FORCED TO FIGHT (2011).  And that's not really saying much.

Daniels plays family guy Shane, a former underground fighter who now owns his own auto shop.  When kid brother Scotty (Arkie Reece, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, JOHN CARTER) tries to flee the fight scene after ripping off ruthless crime boss Danny G. (Peter Weller, ROBOCOP, "Dexter"), he's beaten within an inch of his life.  Shane then finds that he must re-enter the world of underground mixed martial arts in order to pay back Scotty's massive debt to the evil gangster. 

But the fighting life not only causes Shane to revert back to his old, violent self--alienating his wife Connie (Alexandra Weaver) and sensitive son James--but also proves difficult to leave once it has its hooks in him.  As Shane's fights gain massive pay-per-view hits on the internet, Danny G. has no intention of letting him go until he's used him up, even if it means threatening Shane's family so that he'll be...forced to fight.

With a visual style that only occasionally has its moments and a wavering hand-held camera that gets a little old after awhile, director Jonas Quastel and his co-writers have assembled a simple and very familiar plot out of parts we've seen several times before.  Shane's agreement to fight again leads right into the usual training montage, which gives way to the standard fighting-his-way-back-to-the-top montage, which is interspersed with scenes detailing the rapid breakdown of his family life as he reverts to an angry, contemptuous ogre practically overnight.
The fights themselves are meat-and-potatoes stuff, not that well choreographed or edited and directed in rather lumbering, unimaginative fashion.  A parade of uninteresting opponents engage Shane in fights with little variety or suspense, even when he must take on the most fearsome fighter of all, Dracul the Killer (Florin Roata). 

Performances are adequate at first but get worse as the story's dramatic requirements increase.  Daniels and Weaver are stiffly unconvincing in their emotional confrontations, while the direction and dialogue are equally awkward. 

As Scotty, Arkie Reece is fairly good in his scenes with Corbin Thomas as nephew James, where the two of them have an appealing chemisty.  Thomas, in fact, gives one of the film's most effective performances, as the insecure James loses one father figure and clings desperately to another.  Main acting honors, however, go to old pro Peter Weller who emotes broadly as the sadistic Danny G. and is a fun villain for us to root against.

The Blu-Ray disc from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with DTS-HD master audio 5.1 and English subtitles.  Extras consist of the featurettes "Behind the Scenes with Peter Weller" and "Filming the Fights", plus a trailer.

FORCED TO FIGHT trudges along a well-worn path to its inevitable all-or-nothing fight finale.  If you find yourself hard-up for entertainment and in a very undemanding mood some time, you might want to check it out.  As for me, I doubt if I'll ever feel compelled to see it again.  Unless, of course, I'm...forced to watch.

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