Ultimate Fights (2002)

This is the follow-up to FlixMix's apparently successful 2001 Boogeymen release. It contains fight scenes from Rumble in the Bronx, Blade, Fist of Legend, Snatch, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Scarface, The Legend of Drunken Master, Crossing the Line, The Player's Club, Gladiator, Timecop, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, They Live, Black Mask, First Blood and The Killer.

I would love to know the criteria employed to choose the 16 "Most Intense Fights From The Movies". The first three, from Rumble, Blade and Fist are indeed great fights - but the initial Michelle Yeoh-Zhang Ziyi mix-up from Tiger isn't the best from that movie, the bare knuckles fight from Crossing The Line seems a mere exercise in brutality, and the scene from Player's Club is a rather one-sided beating - hardly a "fight" at all.

Additionally, the excerpts from Drunken Master and The Killer end halfway through the fight, with their protagonists injured and apparently defeated. It could be argued that these are climactic scenes, and following them through would spoil the movies' end... but the fights from Fist and Scarface are equally climactic, and they run through to the bitter end. Scenes from Gladiator and They Live also end too soon - the exclusion of Maximus' sparing of Tigris' life despite the crowd's urgings, or the reason why Roddy Piper keeps telling David Keith to "Put on the glasses!" - robs these fights of any resonance or reason, and probably proves girlfriends' darkest comments about our choice of entertainment all too true.

The interactive menu is appropriately loud and garish, for that all-important edgy ambience. Most of the selections are presented full-frame, but the occasional letterboxed selection does manage to sneak in. Giving the devil his due, the clips are all in fine shape, with nice transfers

It is possible to play the fights with "Flix Facts Trivia" playing in a band across the bottom of the frame ("The wirework acrobatics were choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping" is trivia??!!). There are two audio commentary tracks: one by Hong Kong producer/director Tsui Hark, who presents a director's view on the scenes as well as a broader Chinese filmgoer view. The second, by "Hollywood Fight Master James Lew" is a more technical commentary, and is accessible through the "Fight Cards" option, which gives you the stats on each match-up, such as fighting styles, blows delivered, and blows connected.

"Fighter Profiles" will give you brief bios and filmographies of the various actors; "Name That Frame" is precisely that, a game which presents a random frame from a scene so you can guess what movie it's from. You can arrange your favorite fight scenes in "My Top Five" or play the whole shebang with the "The Ultimate Rumble Techno Mix" which is supposedly "scored to the beat of every fight". All I can say is that if this is the case, my sense of rhythm must be even worse than I had originally thought.

The featurette by James Lew, "Behind the Punches", is at least interesting and informative about the way he sets up and choreographs movie fights, though I doubt this will be of much interest to the backyard wrestling fans that are the probable target for this disc. There are, additionally, trailers for each of the movies represented, and I found them by far the most entertaining part of the package.

There are also brief DVD trailers for *Boogeymen, American Pie 2, The Fast and The Furious, Slapshot 2, and, for some reason, the music video "Control" by Puddle of Mud.

I admit, they tried to pack enough value in this disc to make it worth the price, but it ultimately lacks. For my money, I still have to give the kung fu film documentary The Deadliest Art the nod for Ultimate Fight Compilation - were it only available on DVD!

Dr. Freex, 5/7/2002