"Equal parts prison flick and boxing drama...for whatever that's worth."
I learned a word in Film Studies. It was "protagonist". Obviously you know what it means, but I'm kind of stunned to notice that two veteran filmmakers (Walter Hill & David Giler) temporarily forgot all about this term while working on their Boxing-in-Prison flick "Undisputed".Both veterans of many solid flicks (most of the action or sci-fi variety), Hill and Giler seem to have cobbled this concoction together with equal parts Stock Cliche & Headline Plagiarism.
Ving Rhames plays "Iceman" Chambers, a dominant pugilist currently in possession of the title of World Champion. Chambers' life hits a horrible snag when he's accused of sexual assault by a weeping (and highly-televised) young woman. Off to prison goes Chambers, where he finds a boatload of troublemakers, a wizened old mafioso (Peter Falk presents this unwitting parody), and a jailyard boxing champ (the sulky Snipes) with a chip on his shoulder.
Pick any boxing flick under the sun and combine it with any prison movie you've ever seen. There, you've pretty much experienced all that Undisputed has to offer. We're treated to a predictable passal of familiar actors in familiar roles, none of whom are able to crack through such rote material. Rhames and Snipes do what they can with such threadbare characters, but they're undone by a narrative that feels like it used to be (at least) twenty minutes longer.
We're left with two unsympathetic characters given little or no time for development, and then asked to take a side when the big boxing match finally arrives. Everything that precedes the "rousing" finale feels a whole lot like footage excised from an all-star episode of Oz, as edited at random...through a blender.
Too reliant on its already-dated "topicality" (hey, Rhames' character is just like...Mike Tyson!) and listlessly coasting on a laundry list of prison yard plot points, Undisputed is as endlessly familiar as it is ultimately unnecessary.Dispute that.