In the Cage (2013)

inthecage

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A man on the verge of losing it all turns to martial arts to find himself until an unexpected turn of events are set in motion in this indie drama from Menetie T. Ejeye.

Marcus Fields once had it all. A good job, a loving home, and a wonderful family. However, when he gets laid off instead of getting a promotion, things slowly begin to spiral downhill. When his wife Karen has to provide for the home, it proves to be too much as Marcus spends his time being lazy and not looking for a job. Karen, growing tired of Marcus’ antics, gives him an ultimatum to either find a job or risk losing her and their son forever.

Marcus’ friend Frank Biggs is a mixed martial arts fighter and coach. He gets Marcus a job at the local gym he trains in and in addition to work, Marcus gets a chance to train in MMA. Marcus slowly begins to find peace until he is jumped by a band of thugs looking for protection money. Stuck in the hospital for days, Marcus soon learns that his home is on the brink of foreclosure and goes to desperate lengths to get the money to keep their home. However, this soon leads into a life-changing event that may not only threaten him, but those close to him.

At a time where mixed martial arts, or MMA, has become the big thing in films, many filmmakers both A and B-sides have attempted their own films using the style in their action scenes. Some turned out very well, others not so much. For this particular film, indie filmmaker Menetie T. Ejeye, who does have a sharp eye in terms of filming drama, also takes the lead in the role of Marcus Fields, a man on the verge of losing it all and finding himself in some dire situations. What stands out here is that we find Marcus on the path of finding himself gets in not one, but two life-altering situations that tend to give him another chance at redemption or in the case of the second, major trouble when he crosses the wrong people.

Tamara Goodwin goes a bit over the top at times in the role of Karen, Marcus’ long-suffering wife and while it may be a bit OTT, it does have a bit of natural feel to the chemistry between the couple. Andrew J. McGuinness’ Frank tends to be a good role model of Marcus’ attempt to overcoming his demons by helping him learn martial arts while having him work in the local gym so he can help Karen make ends meet.

Most of the mixed martial arts scenes are a bit lackluster. It’s not the editing that’s really bad here. It seems to be more of a lack of technique. The reason is that with a few small exceptions, it looks like the cast is comprised of actors who may have had no formal training and despite having to train for this film, do not have the proper techniques. On the flipside, there have been worse MMA fights in films (can someone say Badass Showdown for example?) but the fights have a bit of a MST3K feel with the hilarious post-production sound effects, including one fighter getting choked out with the sound effect of someone gagging to vomit. The fight scenes for the most part are quite laughable but at least they tried.

In the Cage holds up well in terms of its story, but the action is more laughable than believable. Not bad for indie filmmaking, but let’s hope if Ejeye goes this route again to get some real fighters and use a bit of a better eye in filming fight scenes.

WFG RATING: C-

An MEjeye Films Production. Director: Menetie T. Ejeye. Producer: Menetie T. Ejeye. Writer: Menetie T. Ejeye. Cinematography: Chen Chia-Yu and Chris Youngren. Editing: Darius West.

Cast: Menetie T. Ejeye, Tamara Goodwin, Andrew J. McGuinness, Elsi Eng, Maryl De Milo, Lap T. Nguyen, Ninja Devoe, Blair Sharne, Eiji Inoue, Mantha Balourdou.

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