REVIEW: Boyka – Undisputed (2016)

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“The most complete fighter in the world” is back in this long awaited fourth installment and it is clear that Scott Adkins drives the film once again in his iconic role.

Since his escape from prison, mixed martial arts fighter Yuri Boyka has been competing in the underground circuit. However, he has a chance to qualify for a major pro tournament in Hungary. His first professional fight is against Viktor Gregov. The fight ends with Boyka beating Viktor to the point where he is sent to the hospital. When Boyka learns that he has accidentally killed Viktor, he learns that he has a widow, Alma, in a small town in Russia.

Despite the death of her husband, Alma owes a debt to local crime boss Zourab and to pay off the debt, Alma must work nights as a waitress at his local nightclub, where he holds underground fights for the patrons. When Boyka meets Alma, he is met with resistance from Zourab and his men. However, despite Alma wanting nothing to do with Boyka after his confession of accidentally killing Viktor, Boyka decides to find redemption. He makes Zourab a proposition too good to refuse. Boyka offers to fight in a series of battles in exchange for the debt. Zourab agrees but how far will Boyka go and will it affect his lifelong dream of becoming a professional fighter?

Well, it is clear that this long awaited installment took over five years due to a long withstanding issue in the movie industry: pirating. When Undisputed III was released in 2010, the pirating of that film practically put the fourth installment on hold. Flash forward five years later when Scott Adkins first announced that Boyka was finally going to make his return in a new film. However, thanks to the aforementioned issue, the budget was cut down and focused more on a straightforward story featuring local actors in supporting roles yet thankfully, the film still has a taste of stellar casting in terms of fighting. However, Isaac Florentine takes a step back this time, serving as producer and leaving Todor Chapkanov to direct the film.

Yet, the one thing that must be said about the character of Yuri Boyka is that while he was that very strong prisoner, he had a thing for religion. His introductory scene in 2006’s Undisputed II: Last Man Standing showed him saying a prayer. To Boyka, he feels God has given him the gift of becoming the fighter he is today and religion does in fact play a very important piece in this installment. While he first competes in underground matches, he spends his days helping out at a local church when not in training.

The rest of the film is another road to redemption as he sees to redeem himself and find forgiveness from the widow of the man he accidentally killed. This brings a pretty good performance from Bulgarian actress Teodora Duhovnikova, who plays the constantly grieving and troubled widow Alma. Don’t expect a romance between the two, but clearly someone who needs all the help she can get even if it is someone who she eventually warms up to and sees in some manner, needs help himself. As for Alon Moni Aboutboul, who also played the main villain in London Has Fallen, he once again oozes villainy in the role of mob boss Zourab.

As for the fight scenes themselves, it is clear they are the highlight of the film. Under Adkins’ main choice of choreographer today, Tim Man, Adkins once again shows why Boyka is the most complete fighter in the world. Adkins’ introductory fight here is short for the taking, but it follows with a fight against stunt performer Emilien De Falco, who nearly matches Adkins kick for kick in the role of the fallen Viktor. Adkins gets to take on the likes of Man and Jackie Chan Stunt Team member Andy Long as the Ozerov Brothers in a blistering two-on-one fight.

The first of two main events pits Adkins against the very talented Brahim Achabbakhe, who had doubled for Adkins himself on Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear. The final fight pits Adkins against his most hulking adversary yet, British-born bodybuilding champion Martyn Ford as Koshmar, who is revealed to be Boyka’s replacement as the champion of the prison where Boyka was hailed as their champion. The ending itself may be either predictable or even unpredictable depending on your guessing.

In the end, Boyka: Undisputed 4 is a worthy installment of the film thanks to Scott Adkins driving the film in his signature role with a great fight support cast and a pretty good performance from Teodora Duhovnikova. If you enjoyed the previous films, you will clearly enjoy this latest installment.

WFG RATING: A-

Millennium Films and Nu Image presents a NuBoyana Films/UN4 Productions Inc. production. Director: Todor Chapkanov. Producer: Isaac Florentine. Writer: David N. White. Cinematography: Ivan Vatsov. Editing: Irit Raz.

Cast: Scott Adkins, Alon Moni Aboutboul, Teodora Duhovnikova, Julian Vergov, Brahim Achabbakhe, Paul Chahidi, Valentin Ganev, Martyn Ford, Emilien De Falco, Tim Man, Andy Long.

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