Review by Alex Grant
& CREW Wesley Snipes, Ving Rhames, Peter Falk
Directed by Walter Hill
At age 60 writer-director Walter Hill remains the undisputed maestro of
macho mayhem. His many action-man movies are renowned for their flair
and unflagging zest. Most recently his Last Man Standing,
his homage to the ruthless Dashiell Hammet novel of deceit and betrayal
Red Harvest, (which has been film as Buchanan Rides
Alone by Budd Boetticher: Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa
and A Fistful of Dollars by Sergio Leone each one totally
plagiarised), was an unsparing ode to ultravilolence run amok in Depression
Undisputed may be Hills comeback film, yet in recovering the laurels
for his crown as a world class action-director Hill may have earned a
Phyric victory, in that he has excelled ever since The Warriors
at films that our politically-correct mentors view as antediluvian, if
Set in a desert-girt maximum-security prison in Sweetwater Undisputed
centres upon two prideful and intransigent cons whose reputations as prizefighters
are at stake. Monroe Hitchen (Wesley Snipes), a convicted murderer, has
won 67 fights in his ten years behind bars. George Iceman
Chambers (Ving Rhames), convicted of rape, is the World Heavyweight Boxing
Champion, serving 5-10 years.
Inevitably the prison is all-agog for a clash of these titans of the the
sweet science. The confrontations leading to the title-fight are
orchestrated by Hill with his customary fluency and lightening fast wit.
No hint here of the elegiac poetry that suffused Hills Geronimo:
An American Legend ten years ago, a heart breaking western.
Hills approach tot he Undisputed is all-business, barrel ahead,
and to Hill with the shrinking violets who deplore the antics of all alpha-males.
Such headstrong hooligans have always been with us, and always will be.
Hills films are appallingly uncouth throwbacks that rejoice in testosterone.
He makes no apologies to anyone in his celebrations of the primeval in
man. He is still grounded in the bareknuckle virility that saturated his
1975 movie Hard Times. An almost entirely banished tradition of tough-guy
pyrotechnics. More power to the old reprobate, I say.
© Alex Grant on Movies September 2002
Review by Alex Grant
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