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Walter Hill’s Undisputed
Review by Alex Grant

CAST & 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 Era Texas.

Undisputed may be Hill’s 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 not Neanderthal!

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 Hill’s ‘Geronimo’: An American Legend ten years ago, a heart breaking western.

Hill’s 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. Hill’s 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

Michael Apted’s Enigma
Review by Alex Grant

Enigma is the high point of Michael Apted’s career

More Reviews here

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