Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Walter Hill|
|Produced by||Walter Hill
|Written by||Walter Hill
|Music by||Stanley Clarke|
|Cinematography||Lloyd Ahern II|
|Edited by||Freeman A. Davies
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Budget||$15-$20 million |
64,579 admissions (France)
The film performed poorly at the box-office and received mixed reviews from critics; nevertheless it later found success in the home video market and began a film saga with a direct-to-video sequel without any of the original cast members, Undisputed II: Last Man Standing, which was released in 2006. A second sequel, Undisputed III: Redemption, was released in 2010, and follows Undisputed II's Yuri Boyka as the main character. A third sequel, again focusing on the latter character, Boyka: Undisputed, is set to be released in 2016.
Undisputed heavyweight boxing champion George "Iceman" Chambers (Rhames) is convicted of rape and sentenced to a new prison in the desert called Sweetwater. The high-security facility is populated by hardened criminals. Unaware of the prison's ways and its unique hierarchy, the pompous and bratty Chambers tries to impress upon the inmates his status as a champion boxer.
The prison camp, within its own walls, has a riveting competition on which a betting syndicate thrives. Criminals fight in boxing matches with very lax rules, thus making it a very addictive and lucrative venture for the syndicate while their conscience is kept at bay. The most popular boxer behind bars is Sweetwater's undefeated Monroe Hutchens (Snipes), who ends up in solitary confinement after Chambers picks a fight with him in the mess hall.
Sensing the brewing hatred for the heavyweight champion, an incarcerated mob boss named Ripstein (Falk) senses potential in a match between the modest Hutchens and the egomaniacal Chambers. Ripstein, a lifelong boxing fan, proposes a match and the warden (Arndt) is persuaded to look the other way.
As all the arrangements are finally organized, an eagerly awaited fight night arrives. All hell breaks loose with the haughty professional champ going all out against the unputdownable prison warrior. Chambers knocks down Hutchens twice (and with the 'London Prize' format, each knockdown counts as the end of a round, as the boxer is given only 60 seconds to get up.) In the third round, Hutchens charges back and knocks Chambers down for the first time in his career, sending the crowd of prisoners into a frenzy. Finally, in the fourth round Hutchens officially KO's Chambers to become the undisputed champion.
Ripstein's Mexican assistant reveals in a voice over that Ripstein died three weeks after the fight, but in his will, he left him $2,000,000. Chambers was released on parole, and Hutchens received the money for his sister, who was experiencing hardship on the outside.
It is also revealed that Chambers and his manager denied that the fight with Hutchens ever occurred, and that it was all a rumor. Months later, Chambers wins back the Heavyweight Championship of the World. The whole cell block watches the televised fight, and laugh and cheer Monroe's name after hearing Chambers being crowned the 'undisputed' heavyweight champion of the world.
- Wesley Snipes as Monroe "Undisputed" Hutchens
- Ving Rhames as George "Iceman" Chambers
- Peter Falk as Mendy Ripstein
- Michael Rooker as A.J. Mercker
- Jon Seda as Jesus 'Chuy' Campos
- Wes Studi as Mingo Pace
- Fisher Stevens as Ratbag Dolan
- Master P as Gat Boyz Rapper 1
- Silkk the Shocker as Gat Boyz Rapper 2
- C-Murder as Gat Boyz Rapper 3
- Ed Lover as Marvin Bonds
- Dayton Callie as Yank Lewis
- Dennis Arndt as the Warden
- Bruce A. Young as Charles Soward
The film was shot over 39 days with finance raised from a number of American and European companies. Walter Hill said he had always wanted to make a boxing film, being a fan of the sport since he was young. "Some say Hollywood movies that are made about boxing are just metaphors for other things, I think I've made one that's actually about boxing and not a metaphor."
Hill said the film needed to be cast with black actors to have "serious credibility." He took the treatment to Wesley Snipes who was interested in the story even before it had been turned into a script. "I told him it was conceivable that he could play either [lead] role, but what will not change is the fight and who wins in the end," Hill said.
Hill then sent the script to Ving Rhames who called back the next day saying he wanted to play the Ice Man; Snipes was happy to play the other role.
The film received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 48% based on reviews from 104 critics. The site's consensus is: While not the deepest boxing movie out there, Undisputed is successful at hitting its aspiration of being nothing more than a genre picture.
- AT THE MOVIES: Tunis by Night Is a Cabaret Kehr, Dave. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 23 Aug 2002: E8.
- Box office figures for Walter Hill films in France at Box Office Story
- Clint Morris, "Undisputed: Interview with Walter Hill", Webwombat accessed 25 May 2014
- "Undisputed (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster.