Unbeatable (2013) | Movie review

Unbeatable MMA HK movie poster malaysia featuring nick cheung & eddie peng
Chinese title: 激戰
Previously known as: MMA
Release date in Malaysia: August 15th 2013
Rated: P13
Distributor / studio: Ram Entertainment / Bona Film Group, Film Fireworks
Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin
Genre: Mixed martial arts, action, sports drama
Running Time: 117 minutes
Director: Dante Lam
Writers: Dante Lam, Jack Ng, Fung Chi-fung
Cast: Nick Cheung, Eddie Peng, Andy On, Philip Keung, Crystal Lee, Mei Ting

Synopsis: Fai (Nick Cheung), once a world champion in boxing, escapes to Macau from the loan sharks and unexpectedly encounters Qi (Eddie Peng), a young chap who is determined to win an MMA tournament. Fai becomes Qi’s mentor and rediscovers his passion to fight not only in the ring but for his life and the ones he cares.

Verdict: If you’re a hardcore fan of MMA (mixed martial arts), you’d find the fight scenes here rather unrealistic and poorly executed; even all the shaky, closeup and zoom in-out camera works failed to cover that up. But that’s forgivable, thanks to the film’s heartfelt storyline, strong acting performance, decent humour and moral purposes. Nick Cheung Kar Fai is top class for Unbeatable, practically carried the movie with an engaging emotional display without leaving his trademark comedic ways. Eddie Peng, too, plays his innocent, determined character so convincingly that it gets the audience rooting and fearing for him in his fight scenes despite the illogical choreography. The film’s biggest issue is that it seems to portray MMA as a dodgy, brutal and fatal sport. However, it narrates the basics of the combat sport effectively.

Second opinion: “For someone who doesn’t know much about MMA, I thought the movie’s highly entertaining; surprised to find that Crystal Lee’s acting here’s actually very unnatural & probably not worthy of the Shanghai International Film Festival’s Best Actress award she just won from playing this role” (girlfriend).

The English title: Can somebody explain why they decided to change the original title “MMA” of their film to an extremely typical Chinese film English title? After watching the movie, I’m still wondering why they entitled it “Unbeatable“.

Malaysian censorship: It’s a Chinese sports drama, I’d be surprised if there’s anything to cut at all.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

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[SPOILER SECTION BEGINS HERE]———————————————————————————–

Things left unexplained: At beginning of the movie, Qi (Eddie Peng) is introduced as a young man from a wealthy family who travels around to mostly small villages. However, his background and the reason why he refuse to spend his father’s money are not further clarified. The other thing’s that’s left unsettled is the loan shark/gangster who gets stabbed by Gwen (Mei Ting). Fai (Nick Cheung) owes these people a large sum of money and is visited by them at his new place in Macau. To fight them off, he injures most of them and Gwen actually stabs the boss. At the end, Fai hands his MMA winnings to his friend who’s going back to Hong Kong to help him repay his loan. What makes him think that the gangsters will forgive them just like that? His friend would be kidnap or at least get beaten up.

The portrayal of MMA: It starts off commendably logical. The character, Qi, only trained in Taekwondo before but wishes to participate in an MMA tournament. When he shows the MMA trainer his basic Taekwondo techniques, he’s told to learn from scratch. After a sparring match, he’s advised to block low kicks with his shin. Due to the lack of time, he’s mostly trained to defend and escape from submission attempts instead of attacking as well. Up to that point, I thought this film’s very tightly written… until Qi gets his neck severely injured from a belly-to-back suplex by his opponent, which probably never ever happened in the sport before. The character, Fai, places bets on (and against) Qi, who’s his student by the way, and also places bets on himself when he fights (and that’s how he gets the money to repay his loan at the end). It also seems that both these main characters fight in MMA not because they love the sport or have real passion for it. It’s revealed that Qi joins the tournament to inspire his bankrupt dad to start anew while Fai, a former boxing champ, fights as a last resort to redeem himself from his past mistakes. The scenes of post-fight celebrations and commentary are also not very enthusiastic. I then realised that the film probably intends to portray MMA as a dodgy, brutal and fatal combat sport with heavy gambling involved. The tournament in the movie is also pretty dumb. There’s no mention about the weight class and has only one fight per event. Winner of the fight gets to pick his next opponent by random while the new challenger only has to survive two rounds to win. So if the new challenger wins the last fight of the season, he becomes the grand champion just like that? Also, I guess the MMA consultant didn’t do a great job informing the director about the unified MMA rules ’cause in the fight scenes, we see the fighters striking to the back of the opponent’s head and blood being completely wiped off by doctor during a round, which are not allowed, I believe, in any MMA tourneys.

Unbeatable 激戰 Philip Keung Ho-Man & Dante Lam meme

I assure you, this doesn’t happen in MMA:

Eddie Peng kisses Nick Cheung in Unbeatable 激戰 movie still image

Unbeatable is presented by TuneTalk, the major sponsor of ONE FC and MIMMA. Special thanks to TuneTalk for the exclusive invitation to the official local premiere screening of the film.

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  1. Post

    @Lonely Dude, it's about this you start reading at least a little bit before commenting. It's MMA, not boxing and this is a movie review.

  2. HenRy LeE

    Maybe that's how he got so much traffic in his blog? Being ignorance. LOL

    Anyway, this is a good movie despite how the mma rumble thing was badly done and the non existence of weight category in the fight since there's only 1 fight, maybe there is other fights but they too lazy to film it. Still, this is one of the best cheung ka fai movie i've ever watched.

  3. Kian Fai Koh

    I seriously liked this movie . . . It motivate me wanna to body building actually XD

    If that movie is forbidden in MMA, why they show it on screen? Or the movie itself don't have the special move to impress the audience?

  4. Čღήήϊє LCW

    This movie is really entertaining for people like me who dont know anything about MMA. I like this moie, the mix of humor and heartfelt feeling, but not so into the fighting scene, damns scary zzzzzz

  5. Post

    @KianFai I don't understand what you mean by movie is forbidden in MMA. The film does have special moves, but they're not realistic. Choreography could've been more gritty.

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