Gina Gershon, as the empress of MMA fight promoters, and Elijah Baker as a desperate personal manager to a fighter needing a comeback are the two performers who merit the label “actors” in “Cagefighter: Worlds Collide,” a stupidly-plotted collection of gimmicks from several lesser “Rocky” movies reset in the Octagon.
I point these two out because the other “performances” have a hint of boxing/wrestling/MMA “hype” authenticity, even if we never believe the brawlers playing the parts are thinking of these lines, or delivering them with spontaneity.
It’s all about the fights, of course, so quibbling about stiff line-readings, starchy staging and stale leave-the-awkward-pauses-in direction and editing is just an invitation to assault.
But these mugs can’t act. Even the ring announcers need coaching. Not that the script helps.
“I don’t think a single person in this arena saw that coming!”
The three-act structure writer-director and MMA movie specialist Jesse Quinones came up with? Three. Fights. Plus a snippet of one in the opening credits.
I don’t think a single person watching this movie saw that coming.
The hero, Brit light middleweight Reiss Gibbons (Alex Montagnani) is a five-time champ who has “cleaned out his division,” causing promoter Max (veteran character vixen Gershon) to talk him into a title defense with a psycho, trash-talking wrestler, Randy Stone (Jon Moxley).
I don’t follow the sport closely, but it does have a hint of “We’re making up this showbiz s— as we go along” in its reputation.
Reiss hears the pay per view numbers, and takes the bait.
“What’s Reiss got to lose?” “His DIGNITY!”
Stone? Don’t mention “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. It’s on the list of things that will set him off.
“These are BRICKS,” he yells, holding up his fists. “These are MACK trucks!”
He’s just getting started. “I’m stronger than him, I’m bigger than him, I’m QUICKER than him, Hell, I’m better LOOKING than him!”
We’ve heard that before, variations on a boxing/wrestling/MMA theme, quoting from the Tao of Muhammad Ali.
The build up — exchanging blows when they first meet, another near-brawl at a press conference, delivers the inevitable. The “champ” is humiliated.
It’s the beginning of a downward spiral the screenplay just prances through with no more thought than “I’m afraid.”
There’s nothing for it but to go back to the “basics,” and as Burgess Meredith is long dead and gone, so MMA big name Chuck Liddell plays Marcus, the trainer and nobody’s idea of a thespian, will have to do.
Moxley is the better actor of the ring performers, to be fair. Not that there’s much more that really brutal fight choreography to master.
And even if the acting was better, it’s hard to see this script as anything more than perfunctory scenes in between the fights.
“Wait, I’m BROKE? ‘Ow can that BE, mate?”
It’s a movie, so it’s more violent than any MMA fight you’ve ever seen. So maybe fans will get something out of it. But I don’t see Scorsese or any of his proteges lining to tell a story in the octagon any time soon.
MPAA Rating: unrated, violence, blood and profanity
Cast: Alex Montagnani, Jon Moxley (Jonathan Good), Chuck Liddell, Elijah Baker, Georgia Bradner and Gina Gershon.
Credits: Written and directed by Jesse Quinones. A Screen Media release.
Running time: 1:38