Directed by Walter Hill
Available on Amazon
After being charged for rape, which he vehemently denies, undisputed heavyweight champion boxer George ‘Iceman’ Chambers is incarcerated at the Sweetwater penitentiary in the Mojave desert. His giant ego and self importance inside the prison rubs fellow inmates up the wrong way, in particular the prison’s undisputed champion Monroe Hutchen who Chambers decides to land a cheap shot at during a scuffle. An elderly yet powerful mobster inmate at the prison, by the name of Mendy Ripstein, sets up a boxing match between the two unbeaten champions to find out, once and for all, who is the undisputed champion.
Directed by legendary filmmaker and producer Walter Hill, director of cult classic The Warriors, comes this prison boxing drama starring Ving Rhames as the hulking reigning champion George ‘Iceman’ Chambers and Wesley Snipes as the inter-prison champion Monroe Hutchen. The beginning of the movie introduces the character of Chambers, a boxing hero who thinks he owns the world and everybody should bow down to him. Upon entering the high security Sweetwater penitentiary, he makes his presence known to all the heads of the prison gangs, much to the aggravation of Chambers’ manager and the prison warden. With an ego as big as Chambers’, it’s not long before he gets a beef with Monroe Hutchen after discovering his prison boxing status. Serving a sentence for murder, the more sedate Hutchen remains unbeaten inside the prison for 10 years and when not scrapping with other inmates, finds solace in creating models out of wooden tooth picks. With the arrival of Chambers, Hutchen might finally have some stiff competition, a fact which isn’t overlooked by mobster inmate Ripstein, an elderly fan of the sport of boxing who decides to setup the match of all matches.
UNDISPUTED is a fine film, both as a popcorn movie and as a boxing action flick, with both Rhames and Snipes bringing something different to the table. Rhames, with his bigger frame, looks powerful and his character Chambers is known for his heavy punches, the ones that will knockout his opponents. Snipes on the other hand is leaner, though still muscular, with his character Hutchen displaying quick footwork and strikes and a penchant for effective combos. The two styles are fantastic to watch and the build up to the main fight really adds to the tension between the two characters, with Hutchen the prison favourite and Chambers acting as the bad guy.
To back up two solid leads are a cast of fantastic supporting actors including Michael Rooker, who plays the head prison guard who organises the prison’s boxing program, Fisher Stevens as Ratbag, Hutchen’s manager and cornerman, and Peter Falk as the aging mobster Ripstein.
Despite being made in 2002, this film has a much earlier feel to it, like it could have been made during the early nineties. The flashback scenes showing Chambers and Hutchen in their early days, sometimes in black and white, really convince and bring a back history to the two characters to hit home how accomplished they were prior to imprisonment.
If boxing or combat sports is your thing, which if you’re reading this blog then it should be, you’ll find UNDISPUTED an entertaining watch.
The region 1 DVD also features a conversation with Ving Rhames and Wesley Snipes as special features of the disc.