BY LE LE MAC
Getting ready to watch this movie, I wasn’t expecting it to be an Oscar nominated film or anything, but I thought that it would at least be funny. It was pretty unfunny. I appreciate Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), and I thought that this movie/105 minute commercial for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) would be a treat for a MMA fan to watch, but it actually cheapens the sport. So what’s in it for me? Probably nothing.
Kevin James is Scott Voss, a high school Biology teacher who participates in MMA fights, including the UFC to raise money to save his colleague Marty’s (Henry Winkler/the Fonz) school music program. Voss is motivated to fight to save the music program because he sees Marty and the kids’ passion for music. Of course, he’s also allowing his face to get mangled in the Octagon to impress a girl, the school nurse, Bella, played by Salma Hayek. On Voss’s journey to becoming an MMA fighter, he enlists one of his adult students from his night courses, Niko (former UFC champion Bas Rutten) to teach him how to fight. Bas Rutten was the only funny actor in this movie and it might just be because he’s charismatic, and that he has a cute accent. Kevin James was boring and predictable, the Fonz was awkward and Salma Hayek was misplaced. For a movie that includes a popular comedic actor, Kevin James, and an outspoken stand up comedian, Joe Rogan, in addition to being produced by funny man Adam Sandler, it was shocking to not see any comedy. They must have left it in the ring.
Speaking of the ring, the premise of an overweight average Joe getting trained in the evenings after school and making it to a UFC fight after a few weeks of training degrades the sport’s integrity. I’m no MMA expert, but I do know that it takes dedicated, disciplined and long-term training to make it to UFC. Real MMA fighters are not masters in just one discipline, but several! Accomplishing that takes more than a few night lessons.
UFC often gets made fun of for being a homoerotic sport where sweaty half-naked men grapple each other, and I feel like the filmmakers submitted to this misconception by making fun of it themselves. Voss, Niko, Marty and another trainer had a food fight with each other in a hotel room, where they playfully throw cherry cheesecake at each other as the audience waits to see what they are going to do about their soiled shirts on their bodies. Sadly, this is the only almost funny part of the movie.
Le Le Mac’s passion in film started when she would watch several Chinese films a week so that she could learn how to be more fluent in her mother tongue. Her passion then led her to study film and the Asian diaspora in Canada in graduate school. She is currently writing film reviews as a hobby. She is a big fan of Radiohead and tea. She has 40 different types of tea in her collection, and will often host tea parties. She currently lives in Toronto with her husband.