Plot: George “Iceman” Chambers (Ving Rhames) was the world champion, a boxer that never backed down, earned millions of dollars, and seemed impossible to topple, but now he is locked up in prison. A woman claimed he raped her and he was convicted, so now this rich, powerful man finds himself behind bars. His expensive legal defense has cost him a lot, but he had no idea how dire his financial situation was, especially with a huge civil case about to take place. In prison, a mafia kingpin named Ripstein (Peter Falk) runs a fight racket and offers up sizable purses, with the current champion being an undefeated warrior named Monroe (Wesley Snipes). With Iceman in the prison, a once in a lifetime fight could be lined up and of course, Ripstein works hard to make sure Monroe vs. Iceman will happen. A lot of money rides on the fight and while both men are pushing for a larger take, soon the arrangements are made. But prison life is no walk in the park, so to even make it to the fight, Iceman will have to contend with gangs, crooked officials, and his own hair trigger temperament. If the bout does happen, who will walk out the undisputed champion?
Entertainment Value: Undisputed is an interesting movie, as it defies the usual sports and prison cliches and offers a small scale, no frills kind of experience, but still a rather effective one. The narrative is a simple one, a drive to have two skilled warriors do battle and the assorted minor threads connected to that ambition. The fight itself is of course the grand finale, so the ramp that leads to that point is all about character development and Undisputed shines in that regard. Iceman and Monroe are both hard men, with dark pasts and violent tendencies, so while Monroe is arguably more likable, neither is what you’d call a traditional hero. In a similar vein, Iceman is favored to win, but this is no David & Goliath story, as Monroe is a proven fighter with serious skills, no bum pulled from the shadows. I appreciated this unconventional approach, as it puts the focus on the characters and the value of competition, though of course, on a somewhat not so reliable stage, given the involvement of the mafia and other criminals. Rhames is a lot of fun here, giving us an aggressive, unapologetic Iceman, while Snipes is more reserved, but still has those flashes of violent potential. Peter Falk has a memorable role as well, while the cast also includes Michael Rooker, Jon Seda, and Fisher Stevens, with Walter Hill as the director. Undisputed isn’t as flashy or fast paced as most prison or sports movies, but it tells a capable story and features strong performances, so it is well worth a chance.
No nakedness. This is a prison movie, but the shower scenes are just for talking shit, not showcasing the male form. There is some violence, but it is mostly tame, like typical fist fight level action. Again the movie takes a different path than most prison movies and skips the shanks and prison rapes. So bloodshed is limited to the war wounds of fist fights and little else. But as this is more of a tense drama than action movie, the low violence quotient is never a concern. The finale offers up a grounded, high impact battle, a suitable climax. The dialogue here is fine, but since the movie takes a more reeled in approach, the lines aren’t that wild or outrageous. Iceman has some solid shit talking skills and Peter Falk rambles into some offbeat mumble fests, but otherwise this is well written, but not that memorable. As I said, Undisputed has a serious, grounded tone, so the craziness is pretty much nonexistent. This one keeps it reeled in and serious, with minimal wackiness.
Overall Insanity: 0/10