The Fight Nerd

March 27, 2014

UFC Fight Night 40 Quick Preview

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 12:55 PM

BY JAMES PETERS

As UFC Fight Night 40 edges closer, the fascinating main card at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio looks set to give fans another thrilling night of fights. Opening the main card in Ohio will be Chris Cariaso versus the unbeaten Louis Smolka in the flyweight division. With a 6-3 record inside the Octagon, the experienced Cariaso goes into the fight with more UFC appearances than his opponent has professional fights, and that could be the difference in this bout.

Next up on the card is the heavyweight clash between Australian Soa Palelei and promotional newcomer Ruan Potts. With two straight KO wins since returning to the UFC, Palelei will be a strong favorite to see off the untested South African Potts, with everything pointing to an early finish for the big Aussie. Palelei has been undefeated since 2011, and is an easy pick for winner by whatever he wants in this match.

Next up, William Macario and Neil Magny meet in an evenly matched welterweight match-up, with both fighters looking to win second straight bouts inside the Octagon. While Magny has the greater top level experience, Macario has the tools to possibly surprise the Betfair odds and take the win. Both fighters are looking to keep their confidence high after returning to the winners circle, and neither man will want to go the distance either, so expect to see Macario push for a finish with Magny holding on and trying to grind it out.

Erik Koch will be looking to follow up his impressive TKO victory over Rafaello Oliveira with a win again Daron Cruickshank. The 25-year old has mixed it with the best throughout his time in the sport and will be a comfortable favorite in this lightweight fight. Cruickshank is coming off his epic spinning wheel kick knockout against Mike Rio back in January, but Koch seems to be the more explosive of the pair. Look out for this one to be fight of the night material!

Heading to Ohio on the back of two straight defeats, Costas Philippou is in desperate need for a win against Lorenz Larkin in the co-main event. But despite his relatively low profile, Larkin had been building up a decent run before his points loss to Brad Tavares in January and the Californian will be confident of handing the Cypriot fighter his third straight UFC defeat.

The main event of the night sees Matt Brown look to continue his ruthless tear through the welterweight division when he meets Erick Silva. Brown will enter the Octagon on a six-fight winning run and will be a firm favourite with Betfair, but Silva showed what he is capable of with his bonus-winning KO victory against Takenori Sato in February.

UFC Fight Night 40: Brown vs. Silva is set for May 10, 2014 at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.

March 26, 2014

OSMMA Review: UFC 9 – Worst UFC main event ever?

After a long delay, the Old School MMA Review returns with a look at one of the worst (if not worst of all time) events in the history of the UFC.

From the Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan on May 17, 1996, “UFC 9: Clash of the Titans” was the first UFC event to bypass the one-night eight-man tournament format, and replace it with a card of single fights with essentially no meaning whatsoever, aside from the main event, a rematch between Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn for the UFC Superfight Title, which featured 35 minutes of stalking around the ring and nary a strike thrown.

Also on UFC 9, the underwhelming octagon debuts of Amaury Bitetti, Matt Anderson, and Rafael Carino, the return of previous losers Zane Frazier and Cal Worsham, new up-and-comer’s Don Frye and Gary Goodridge showing us more about themselves, and the one-time appearance of arguably one of the greatest athletes that has ever graced the UFC, Mark Schultz. This is an event for the ages, stuffed to the brim with internet polls, filler, and all sorts of other irrelevant nonsense as Zane Simon and The Fight Nerd do their best to survive this awful event, and make you suffer in return for making us have to sit through it! Enjoy!

You can check out my article on what really happened during the Severn VS Shamrock 2 fight with quotes from Severn, Shamrock, Big John McCarthy, and Bob Meyrowitz at this link here!

If you want to torture yourself, you can order UFC 9 on Amazon.com at this link here , which has since been renamed Motor City Madness (because you would be mad to want to watch this).

March 14, 2014

Strikezone holds “Strikers’ Cup 11″ in New Jersey on March 15

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 1:42 PM

With a stacked amateur card in place, Strikezone Promotions Muay Thai event, “The Strikers’ Cup’s 11″ will hit Voorhees, New Jersey tomorrow night!

The 13 intriguing contests will feature athletes from eleven of the tri-state’s top Muay Thai and MMA gyms and take place on Saturday, March 15, 2014, at the Flyers Skate Zone (601 Laurel Oak Rd, Voorhees, NJ 08043). The sanctioned bouts are set to begin at 8:00 p.m. (ET). Celebrated fight broadcaster GoFightLive will cover all the action on their website gfl.tv.

“We’re thrilled to host another fantastic night of Muay Thai kickboxing as we promote this great combat sport,” Derek Riddick, New Jersey fight promoter and owner of Strikezone Promotions, had to say about the event. “This is going to a very exciting event for both seasoned and new amateur fighters looking to hone their skills under the pressures of a crowd.”

Riddick added, “We’ve got many fighters, male and female, making their debuts, and for them and their fans the excitement and anticipation rivals any world championship battle. Plus, there’s really no “feeling out” round in the amateurs, so the intensity and non-stop action goes from start to finish. With the added spice from Strikers’ Cup regulars from Daddis, Tiger Schulmann, Five Points, Girl Fight and Strikezone, we’re pleased to add Square Circle NY to the mix. All told, I think we’ve put together a fight card that is going to deliver an entertaining evening.”

A large portion of the gate proceeds will benefit two great charities — “Autism Speaks” and “The American Cancer Society” — thereby making this event not only a platform to showcase these fighters, but also a path to aiding those in need.

The complete fight card is below:

• Lightweight (over 130 to 135 lbs.) Emily Back, AMA Fight Club vs. Diana Zhivanaj, TSMMA

• Lightweight (over 130 to 135 lbs.) Jonathan Nieves, Square Circle New York vs. Lizandro Zhinin, Daddis Fight

• Lt Heavyweight (178 Limit) Josh O’Reilly, NJMA vs. Tunde Lapido, TSMMA

• Welterweight (over 140 to 147 lbs.) Jimmy Cavalucci, Daddis Fight Camps vs. Juan Vidas, TSMMA

• Light Heavyweight (over 168 to 175 lbs.) James Peay, Five Points Academy vs. Angel Rodriques, TSMMA

• Heavyweight (over 210 lbs. to 235 lbs.) Ralph Arias,TSMMA vs. Jaalas Moura, Ironbound Fight Club

• Welterweight (over 140 to 147 lbs.) Anthony Kluska, Daddis Fight Camps vs. Justin Musliga, TSMMA

• Flyweight (up to 112 lbs.) Hazel Donguitis, Girl Fight MMA vs. Antje Schoeman, Square Circle New York

• Middleweight (over 154 to 161 lbs.) Bobby Malcolm, Daddis Fight Camps vs. Damien Bailey, TSMMA

• Featherweight (over 122 to 126 lbs.) Manuel Seguero, TSMMA vs. Sam Santiago, Square Circle New York

• Super Middleweight (over 161 to 168 lbs.) Andy Seqovia, TSMMA vs. Linwood Lewis, UFC Gym Cherry Hill

• Lt Heavyweight (178 Limit) Saidi Mohamed, Camp Undefeated vs. Kenny Klotz, Strikezone MMA

• Lightweight (over 140 to 147 lbs.) Carl Gaeta, Five Points Academy vs. Danny Ramirez, TSMMA

For ticket information contact Derek Riddick of Strikezone at 856-439-9663.

March 13, 2014

Robbie Lawler credits return to sparring with rise in UFC

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:18 PM

This weekend at UFC 171, Robbie Lawler gets a crack at the UFC welterweight title, a long and arduous journey behind him that has spanned his time as a top dog in Strikeforce all the way to his return in the UFC. A recent interview on Yahoo! Sports revealed a surprising fact about Lawler’s training camps during his tenure in Strikeforce – that he stopped sparring during his fight camps!

Lawler has gone 3-0 since his return to Zuffa land, and the sportsbook odds are in his favor for this championship bout, but it took a drastic change in his training to get him to where he is now. Back in the summer of 2012, after losing to Lorenz Larkin at “Strikeforce:Rockhold VS Kennedy”, Lawler opted to stop having intense sparring sessions in his gym, eliminating it completely from his regimen. Kevin Iole has the details, via Monte Cox:

He basically didn’t spar before facing Larkin, in effect going 180 degrees away from the aggressive sparring philosophy he was brought up with at the Miletich camp, and it left him unprepared.

“We talked after that and we both realized that he needed to spar some,” Cox said. “Not sparring kept him concussion-free, but in this sport, you need to spar some to be able to see the openings and get your timing and all of that.”

Lawler also stated that he never felt truly ready to be the best fighter that he saw himself being, but it seems that things have begun to click for the MMA veteran, and it might be enough to get him the belt that has eluded him so long during his journeyed career.

Lawler will meet Hendricks (whose last appearance in the octagon was a controversial loss to the now retired Georges St. Pierre) in what is expected to be either a five-round brawl that will go the distance, or a very short and violent scrap, this weekend at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas at UFC 171. Welterweights Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley will also meet on the main card, along with Diego Sanchez VS Myles Jury, Jake Shields VS Hector Lombard, and Ovince St. Preux VS Nikita Krylov

March 11, 2014

Anderson Silva & Lyoto Machida star in new MMA movie, “Tapped”

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 4:29 PM

There is a new MMA movie coming to town this year, and this one features some big names in the fight world, as well as the action movie world.

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“Tapped”, directed by Allan Ungar and produced by Hackybox Pictures and Oriahsphere Entertainment, is an action drama about a disgruntled teenager, sent to do community service at a rundown Karate school, who enters an MMA tournament to face the man that killed his parents. The film stars Michael Biehn (Terminator, Aliens, The Rock), MMA Champion Anderson Silva, MMA Champion Lyoto Machida, Krzysztof Sosyznski (Here Comes The Boom), Martin Kove (The Karate Kid Trilogy), and Cody Hackman. Personally, I have always wanted to see how Kreese from the Karate Kid would fare against Silva, so I am happy to report that dreams do indeed come true. I am also happy that K-Sos is back in movies since he was one of the best parts of “Here Comes the Boom”, and is pretty much a natural.

The film will be released by Lionsgate Home Entertainment under the new name “Tapped Out” on May 27, and by VVS films in Canada. It will see a theatrical release across Brazil on May 16.

Personally, any MMA movie that uses a twister is good in my books, so we will keep you updated as the film gets closer to a release. You can keep up with what is happening with the film on their twitter page or their Facebook page.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson VS King Mo added to “Alvarez VS Chandler 3″ Bellator PPV

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 1:50 PM

MMA’s greatest trilogy is set for Saturday, May 17th as Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez will defend his title against Michael Chandler in the most highly anticipated fight of 2014, live on Pay-Per-View. The night also features the Memphis return of MMA superstar Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who will square off against King Mo Lawal in one of MMA’s most heated rivalries. The event will take place from The Landers Center, located just outside Memphis on Saturday, May 17th. Tickets for the event will go on sale on Friday, March 14th at 10am CST on Ticketmaster.com, Bellator.com and The Landers Center Box Office.

The main event is the third installment in this epic MMA trilogy that has featured a spectacular submission victory for Chandler at Bellator 58 and a dramatic 5-round split decision victory for Alvarez at Bellator 106 this past November. Both of their previous fights were considered for “Fight of The Year” by the MMA media and fans.

A native of South Memphis, Rampage returns to The River City for the first time in fifteen years to battle King Mo in the Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament Finals. Since joining Bellator in 2013, Rampage has delivered two highlight reel knockouts, and will face his toughest test in Bellator to date when he battles King Mo from The Landers Center on Saturday, May 17th live on Pay-Per-View.

“I’ve been wanting to come back to Memphis for the last decade, and I’m finally getting that chance to fight in one of the biggest fights of my career for Bellator,” Jackson said. “After being part of the Bellator family for a while now, I feel like the old Rampage, and that’s not a good thing for Mo. I’m back, I’m a monster, and I’m looking to put on another entertaining fight for all my fans on May 17th.”

“When it comes down to it, this is a fight I’ve wanted for a long time, and I’m going to be able to beat his ass in his hometown, and everyone is going to respect me,” Lawal said. “Rampage is just a stepping stone in my way to get that title shot again and get that belt. It’s all I want, and after I beat Rampage, I’m going for that belt, simple as that.”

“We now have two fights on this card that are absolute fireworks,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “Like I said before, we have Alvarez and Chandler headlining a card that will end the best trilogy ever in MMA, and now we’ve added two more superstars to the mix with Rampage and King Mo. May 17th is going to be an absolutely huge night for Bellator, live on Pay-Per-View.”

March 5, 2014

Daniel Cormier announced as Honorary Captain of USA World Cup Wrestling Team

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 3:44 PM

Daniel Cormier, a two-time Olympian in men’s freestyle wrestling and an undefeated star with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, will serve as the Honorary Captain of the 2014 U.S. Freestyle World Cup Team.

Under the guidance of Team Leader Andy Barth, Cormier will captain the U.S. team at the Freestyle Wrestling World Cup, at the Forum, presented by Chase, March 15-16 in Inglewood, Calif. The World Cup is the annual international dual meet championships, and will feature the top 10 men’s freestyle wrestling teams in the world.

“It will be great to be part of the World Cup team. As an athlete, I wrestled on a few World Cup teams. To be welcomed by USA Wrestling, the coaches and the team means a lot to me,” said Cormier.

National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones is pleased that Cormier will be in Los Angeles as part of the team.

“In team sports, a captain is a title that is given to an athlete on the team. A captain on the United States Wrestling Team is a person that represents honor and respect and Daniel epitomizes that. We know he’ll be there to help and support his USA Wrestling teammates, especially in the heat of the battle. We know Daniel will take the responsibility of helping the team when they step out on the mat and have them ready,” said Jones.

Cormier had a successful career in international freestyle wrestling. He was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, which competed in Athens, Greece, as well as the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, which competed in Beijing, China. Cormier placed fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games. He was a 2007 World bronze medalist and placed fifth in the 2003 World Championships. He wrestled on six straight U.S. World or Olympic Teams, and won six straight U.S. Open national titles.

A native of Lafayette, La., Cormier was a two-time NJCAA Junior College national champion for Colby CC in Kansas. He went on to Oklahoma State, where he placed second in the 2001 NCAA Div. I Championships, competing for two-time Olympic champion John Smith.

Cormier won a silver medal at the 2005 World Cup which was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

“I remember the World Cup as being a high-level event, where you wrestled back-to-back against top opponents. The dual meet format was fun. It was great to be part of a team, and to be able to help your team win,” said Cormier.

The United States last won a World Cup team title when it was held in Boise, Idaho in 2003. Cormier believes that a U.S. team victory in Los Angeles would show that U.S. freestyle wrestling is moving up at the World level.

“A win would show a progression for USA Wrestling. We had two Olympic champions and a bronze medal at the last Olympic Games. It shows that as a country, U.S. wrestling is going in the right direction. A win in the World Cup would show that we are advancing. I believe we are getting on track as a program and are closing the gap on the best in the world,” said Cormier.

Cormier will have an opportunity to speak with the U.S. team members, many who may be wrestling in their first World Cup.

“I will tell them to enjoy it. Your career just goes so fast. I can think back to every one of my major events as a wrestler. I will say to live in the moment and compete how you know how to compete. Just go out there, represent this great country and do us proud,” said Cormier.

Cormier has excelled in his Mixed Martial Arts career, compiling an impressive 14-0 record while competing at heavyweight and light heavyweight. Most recently, Cormier cemented his place as a light heavyweight title contender with a first-round knockout victory over Patrick Cummins in the co-main event of UFC 170. The 34-year-old trains at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose alongside fellow UFC standouts such as UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold.

“I got everything from wrestling. I learned how to train hard, and I was hardened to the toughness of competition. I learned how to compete on the big stage by wrestling in two Olympic Games. In my fighting career, I have no worries. Wrestling has prepared me for everything,” said Cormier.

Cormier brings enthusiasm to his role as World Cup Honorary Team Captain.

“The biggest thing for me is to be a part of USA Wrestling and our team again. It means a ton to me. It motivates me that I am welcomed back to the sport which molded me,” said Cormier.

March 2, 2014

Alvarez VS Chandler 3 will headline Bellator’s first Pay-Per-View (again)

Filed under: Lead Story,News — Tags: , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 3:45 PM

MMA’s greatest trilogy will occur on Saturday, May 17th as Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez will defend his title against Michael Chandler in the most highly anticipated fight of 2014, live on Pay-Per-View. Location and ticket information will be made available shortly.

The main event is the third installment in this epic MMA trilogy (which Bellator is calling “MMA’s Greatest Trilogy”) that has featured a spectacular submission victory for Chandler at Bellator 58 and a dramatic 5-round split decision victory for Alvarez at Bellator 106 this past November. Both of their previous fights were considered for “Fight of The Year” by the MMA media and fans.

“These two warriors have produced the two best fights I have ever seen, and on May 17th, two of the greatest lightweights on the planet will close out the best trilogy in MMA,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said.

“I’m excited to be headlining the first Bellator Pay-Per-View, and just excited to get back in there,” Chandler said. “I’m going to bring the fight like always, and I’m not going to leave any doubt that I’m one of the best lightweights in the world. Whenever you suffer your first loss, you want that chance to avenge that defeat, and I have that opportunity on May 17th.”

“Like every fight, you are only as good as your last performance,” Alvarez said. “I always go out and try to put out the best performance possible, and that’s what I’m going to do May 17th. Mike and I have a long history together, and everyone knows what type of battles we’ve had, but I’m training in a manner that should end the fight quickly. I want a fast, quick fight that is going to keep me as Bellator Champion.”

More fights will be announced leading up to the event.

March 1, 2014

“M-1 Challenge 45″ Results

Filed under: Event Results — Tags: — The Fight Nerd @ 1:51 PM

Undefeated Estonian heavyweight Denis Smoldarev (6-0-0) earned a M-1 Global title fight shot by defeating Ante “Walking Trouble” Delija (8-2-0) in tonight’s main event, headlining M-1 Challenge 45, at Atmosphere Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Known as “The Brock Lesnar of Estonia,” the 6′ 5″, 266 ½ pound Smoldarev is now positioned to fight the winner of the M-1 Global heavyweight championship fight, March 14 at M-1 Challenge 46, between reigning champion Damian “Polish Pitbull” Grabowski (19-1-0) and challenger Marcin “Tybur” Tybura (9-0-0).

The 6′ 4″, 247-pound Delija had a successful throw and took Smoldarev’s back to start a great first round of action. Smoldarev moved to Delija’s guard, working from the top, and unleashed a volley of strong punches and leg kicks on the Croatian.

Smoldarev came out for the second round throwing a good left but Delija quickly went to the ground, taking Smoldarev’s back and transitioning to a heel hook. It wasn’t tight enough and then Smoldarev took the top position, firing strikes and then locked in an “Americana.” Delija let out a scream that the referee considered a verbal submission and ended the fight. Delijia protested to no avail.

M-1 Global lightweight champion Musa Khamanaev (14-3-0) outclassed Ukrainian fighter Vladimir Nikolaev (10-2-0) in their non-title fight. Khamanaev opened with a series of effective strikes and then, using his superior wrestling skills, the Russian took down Nikolaev whose nose was bloodied as he held on for his fighting life. Khamanaev overwhelmed Nikolaev, who was unable to escape, with strong strikes off his powerful ground-and-pound attack. The referee stopped the fight in the second round for a TKO win by Khamanaev.

In an upset, Russian middleweight Rashid Yusupov (3-2-0) won a decision over Brazilian veteran Charles “Gracie” Andrade (27-16-0). Yusupov, a striker, escaped a Kimura attempt by Andrade early in the first round and went on to dominate the first five minutes of the fight. Outside of one successful Andrade takedown, Yusupov spent most of the second round in Andrade’s closed guard. The trend continued in the final round as Yusupov started with a short stand-up and takedown, in which there was little activity until the final minute of the fight when both fighters were back on their feet. Yusupov landed some good strikes and kicks, highlighted by a spinning back-kick, to close the show.

Russian lightweight Alexander “Iron Capture” Butenko (34-9-0) won a war of attrition in a battle of season veterans against Niko Puhakka (28-15-0), of Finland. Puhakka suffered a cut over his eye in the opening round that freely flowed during the entire fight. Butenko was unable to submit the game Finn but he was in complete control en route to a solid win by decision.

In an exciting match of skilled grapplers, Russian welterweight Ilya Doderkin (4-0-0) remained undefeated, as Nenad “Nino” Avramovich (0-2-0), of Spain, submitted in the second round. The action was fast and furious as the two fighters constantly changed positions until Doderkin suddenly slapped on a triangle hold, resulting in his impressive victory.

Striking prevailed over grappling as Sergei Andreev (6-2-0) took a decision from fellow Russian lightweight Rahman Makhazhiev (1-1-0). Throughout the fight, Andreev wanted to fight on his feet and go for a knockout, while Makhadzhiev preferred fighting on the mat to try for a submission.

Russian featherweight Yunus Evloev (13-6-0) outlasted his Ukrainian opponent, Vitali Branchuk (13-4-0), for a hard fought decision in a back-and-forth match from start to finish.

Oleg Misikov (2-0-0) used his physical superiority over fellow Russian lightweight Ivan Getman (1-1-0) to a dominant first-round round stoppage. The referee halted the action early as Misikov landed powerful, unanswered strikes.

Russian lightweight Kurbanali Abdusalamov (3-2-0) ruined the professional debut of Alejandro Kratz-Ferrer (0-1-0), trapping the Spanish fighter in a mount position and punching away until Kratz-Ferrer tapped out in the opening round.

Ukrainian lightweight Oleg Khachaturov (1-1-0) won his first professional fight by decision as his ground-and-pound attack was too much for pro-debuting St. Petersburg fighter Alexander Korneev (0-1-0) to handle.

HEAVYWEIGHTS:

DENIS SMOLDAREV (6-0-0), Estonia

WSUB2

ANTE DELIJA (8-2-0), Croatia

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS:

RASHID YUSUPOV (3-2-0), Russia

WDEC3

CHARLES ANDRADE (27-16-0), Brazil

WELTERWEIGHTS:

ILYA DODERKIN (4-0-0), Russia

WSUB2

NENAD AVRAMOVICH (0-2-0), Spain

LIGHTWEIGHTS:

MUSA KHAMANAEV (14-3-0), Russia

WTKO2

VLADIMIR NIKOLAEV (10-2-0), Ukraine

ALEXANDER BUTENKO (34-9-0), Ukraine

WDEC3

NIKO PUHAKKA (28-15-0), Finland

SERGEI ANDREEV (6-2-0), Russia

WDEC3

RAHMAN MAKHAZHIEV (1-1-0), Russia

OLEG MISIKOV (2-0-0), Russia

WTKO1

IVAN GETMAN (1-1-0), Russia

KURBANALI ABDUSALAMOV (2-2-0), Russia

WSUB1

ALEJANDRO KRATZ-FERRER (0-0-0), Russia

OLEG KHACHATUROV (1-1-0), Ukraine

WDEC3

ALEXANDER KORNEEV (0-1-0), Russia

FEATHERWEIGHTS:

YUNUS EVLOEV (13-6-0), Russia

WDEC3

VITALI BRANCHUK (13-4-0), Ukraine

February 28, 2014

“Fists of Legend” DVD Review

Filed under: Movie Reviews — Tags: , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:27 AM

Korea has been having a real renaissance with their action movies in the past decade or so, releasing a lot of excellent martial arts films that can easily stand against any other nations. With MMA rising in popularity, it’s a no-brainer that the two would go together, and with “Fists of Legend” we get the one-two combo of story and fights that make for a pretty unique action movie. Based on a webcomic by Lee Jong-gyu and Lee Yoon-gyun, this fight flick ends up being just as much a drama than a straight beat-em-up movie, and that is fine by me.

Lim Deok-kyu’s was an olympic hopeful boxer in high school who had trouble staying out of fights. A bit of bad luck involving his friends Jin-ho, Jae-seok, and Sang-hoon caused some major disruptions in all of their lives and the group fell apart. Years later, while running a noodle shop to earn extra money following an accident involving his daughter, Lim reluctantly accepts an invitation to join a televised mixed martial arts tournament, “The Legendary Fighter”, which is all about middle-aged men who used to be teenage fighting “legends” who take part in an MMA reality show, with the winner receiving ₩20 million every round. Among the contestants are Deok-kyu’s old friends Sang-hoon, currently a manager at a large company who lacks in self-respect after getting passed over for a promotion, and Jae-seok, now a good-for-nothing guy who dreams of becoming a somebody. Many years have passed since the group was last together, and when the show decides to put on a huge tournament to crown a grand champion with a prize of ₩200 million at stake, the group must decide what is really important in life – winning, or each other.

While a martial arts tournament is not a new setting for action movies, this concept is a bit more foreign. “Fists of Legend” takes a tired formula and breathes new life into it, especially with a deep story that goes places I did not expect it to go. The acting is good all around, and I really felt that the teenage counterparts for the flashbacks could have been the adult actors at a younger age. The cinematography looks smooth and, while it is nothing fancy, tells the story very clearly and affects the pace and timing when it needs to.

The movie plods along at a casual pace. It knows where it wants to go, and it will get there when it feels like it, which makes this a bit different from your usual high-octane fight flick. This is a drama first, but there is plenty of action sequences throughout the movie. You never feel bored waiting for those scenes to happen, but if all you want to see is fights, this is the wrong movie for you. With a run time of over 150 minutes, it’s a very long movie that really takes its time exploring all of the characters and develops them at length. It’s not a complex plot, but it is one that revolves around the character arcs that take over two hours to get from Point A to Point B. However, there is a twist in the third act that has been set up to a very small extent that changes where the movie goes for the big finish. It almost feels like two different movies at that point, although it does flow well thanks to just being a good movie. I can not say much more without giving things away, but be prepared for a sudden change that is not unwelcome, it simply comes out of nowhere.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.45.19 PM

The fights themselves are filmed excellently, giving you the ability to get in close inside the ring, then pulling you back out for reactions. Nothing groundbreaking, just good storytelling with the camera that adds emotion and the right amount of energy to all of the fights. The choreography feels mostly realistic, considering that the majority of the men fighting are amateurs or white-collar brawlers. However, many of the flashbacks blur the line with some jumping around that you do not see in the present-time storyline. Maybe that is just part of reminiscing the past, or maybe the kids were more athletic, but even with some of those leaping kicks and a few other fantastic elements, the fights that matter feel legit and draw you in, especially with their more realistic pacing rather than constant high-octane jump cuts.

One negative of this movie would be the English dub, as much gets lost in translation. Any casual anime fans will immediately recognize many of the voiceover actors from their favorite animated shows, which is very distracting since this is live-action. It’s hard to take the movie seriously when I am hearing the characters from “Naruto” or “Soul Eater” conversing. If you watch this movie, definitely turn off the dub and turn on the subtitles.

The DVD includes several special features, including a 22-minute long “making-of” featurette that is pure behind the scenes footage. No talking heads discussing the movie, just a ton of footage showing how the action scenes were made with the actors occasionally chiming in to talk about the scene, and frankly, this was the best special feature of the bunch and a great reference for any filmmakers interested in doing their own fight choreography. There is a seven minute feature called “Cry of 3 Men” which shows the making of the official songs for the soundtrack, which is also wonderful for anyone interested in the world of audio, and also has interviews with the musicians and the three stars of the film.

“I’m The Best” is a four minute long featurette that shows how they shot the movie poster, also very good for photographers, and lastly, the “19th Outing”, a 10 minute long feature that shows the premiere of the movie in Korea, including the press junket and all of the cast and staff discussing the film for the media. Overall, a very excellent batch of extras. There are no deleted scenes to watch, and with a movie that is 150 minutes long, it’s no surprise that there are none.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, both for the story and action. Even though it feels overly long, and in my opinion would benefit from trimming it down to at least under two hours, it has a good story that keeps you interested with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Korea has been doing a great job making action movies in the past 10 years, easily rivaling those coming out of Hong Kong, and this is another very good one that has a lot to offer.

You can order “Fists of Legend” from Amazon.com for around $10, and I recommend picking it up if you are a fan of a solid fight movie with a solid narrative.


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