However there were a couple of things that caught my eye, the attention of the film wasn't just on the fighters but also on those behind the scenes, setting up the fights, and it boasted some of the most realistic fights ever.
We are introduced to an underground fighting tournament that sees a group of people pay large sums of money to choose a single fighter and between them decide who fights in each round. The last fighter standing wins a split of the prize money along with the person backing them. It's as simple as that.
So fighters are chosen for different reasons, reasons which are lightly explored in the film itself, and the tournament commences in a number of secret locations throughout the city.
The plot does sound extremely familiar doesn't it, although I do like the extra aspect of seeing people back the fighters themselves, and the mirrored battles between the groups has got some potential. Does it live up to it?
Well I have to say the fight scenes are very good, and some of them are excellent to watch. They are extremely realistic and very well choreographed, without much involvement other than the stunt people's own skills. Sure there's editing and camera angles, but other than that there's nothing else, no wires or special effects here.
There are a few poor moments though, and one that particularly stands out as not really working is the fight scene in the front of the car. I'm sure it feels a lot different to someone who is versed in the art of fighting, however for me it really didn't flow as well as some of the other fight scenes.
What I am amazed by, apart from a few apparently missed punches, is just how much they seem to connect with each other during the fight scenes, and how real these look. In the extras we discover a little of how much they do connect.
This realistic fighting is nothing like we see in the cinemas, and really does make an effort to keep the camera back and view the fights rather than zoom right in and edit the fight together a la the Bourne films.
However it's not just about the fighting, and there is a film to be watched here, and it's good because Underground attempts to do something more akin to a film.
The way the story is built up and the fight scenes connected together is rather well done, it's not as poor as you might think looking at the story blurb, and there is something to be had here over and above the straight up fighting.
When you do think of an underground fight tournament, it's hard not to think of anything but Tekken, Street Fighter, and that kind of story line, but there's also Bruce Lee's XX to consider, that managed some amazing fighting and did deliver a story too.
Although it's not as good as XX, it does have a pretty interesting story that does bring interest and depth to some of the characters fighting.
That said it doesn't quite go deep enough for you to really start feeling some sympathy for certain characters and connecting with them. We're more just shown the pivotal event that brought them there rather than something that would mean we'd connect with them and feel a real interest in them winning.
Some of the characters that we do see fighting are quite stock and rather stereotypical, such as the Soldier and the Policeman, made worse by the fact that they fight in uniform, something you really couldn't see happening in real life.
It is an interesting turn of the story to come back to the main room and see the backers talking with each other before the fights, even bickering and almost coming to blows themselves. Again there are some interesting possibilities raised here but never quite explored. I did feel that more could have been made around the connection with one of the backers and his fighter, although it was hinted at that this was strong, we never really get a sense or feeling of how much.
The acting isn't exactly powerful amongst the fighters, and when they do deliver the odd line some of them are rather poor. It's clear from the recognisable faces of the British television actors that the acting talent is reserved for the backer's storyline with the stunt people preferring to do what they do best, fight.
The filming is solid, but it could be better as during the fight scenes there are moments where the camera loses the action a little.
Location and sets are also kept small and manageable, with some inventive choreography to make use of them, particularly the car fight although I didn't feel it quite worked when they actually entered the car.
The picture is slightly grainy and textured in some scenes, and adds to the feeling of reality. The style has been kept pretty basic and raw in order to capture the fighting without interfering with it.
Dolby Digital 5.1
During the larger indoor fight scenes the rear speakers are engaged to echo and give a hall-like feeling. However for the most part it doesn’t feel as though the rear speakers are ever really utilised.
Deleted Scenes, Behind the Scenes Footage, Anatomy of a Fight Sequence, Trailers
Extras: Deleted Scenes
Deleted Scenes, Anatomy of Fight Scene, Behind the Scenes Footage, Trailers
The deleted scenes aren’t very exciting and for the most part you can see why they are deleted. The majority have additional lines and the fighters have much more on screen time and some dialogue.
Anatomy of Fight Scene
This could have been much more, I really would have liked to have felt the amount of work and effort that goes into choreographing and practising these scenes, with things that work and don't work on the way. Instead we see the rehearsal, then the actual scene, followed by a split screen comparison. It's interesting to watch, but this could have gone deeper.
Behind the Scenes Footage
Some behind the scenes filming action and we hear from a lot of the cast members, particularly the fighters talking about their skills, the film, and their fight scenes.
Underground does take the standard ideas of a fight film and do two good things with it, one it brings a certain sense of reality to it all, through the fighting and the back story, and two it adds a background to it, looking to the people behind the fights and those that arrange it all for money rather than violence or honour.
It would really be interesting to see this film adapted with a bigger budget and a stronger script pulling out some of these relationships, because there’s a lot here that has great potential.
However in the end it is still a fight film, it does have some very strong fight scenes, and realistic fighting, and it does attempt to build more into it with the behind the scenes story and small tastes of back story.
I’d recommend this if you do like your fight scenes, however for dramatic storyline you might be disappointed.