From the beginning I could tell this would be a stinker purely from the way the movie derives from true life events. The character “Iceman” could purely be based on Mike Tyson alone, but fails where it has a chance to invoke some truly witty social commentary. Ving Rhames tries his hardest to look conniving and arrogant but most of the time comes off as laughable and outrageous looking like a hokey but smarter Mike Tyson imitation. Wesley Snipes also attempts to pull off the gruff silent hero persona with skills, but fails as well coming off as a mere caricature with no depth to him at all. The movie has a primary problem that plagues this: It has no focus. I wasn’t sure if this movie had any main character to begin with, because the movie doesn’t focus on any of the characters in particular.
We constantly jump from character to character throughout the movie, with long repetitive scenes and laughable monologues. It tries really hard to become a boxing epic, but just takes scenes from other better boxing movies and saturates it here. “Rocky” was a classic because it wasn’t a boxing movie, but a movie about something, with a character we were able to feel for. This has a lot of characters that aren’t even interesting. Monroe is boring and about as deep as a kiddy pool, “Iceman” is just a comic book villain and Peter Falk’s character Mendy is just a mafia character cardboard cut-out from other movies that seemed out of place in this. This also tries to become a hardcore prison movie, but yet again takes pieces from better prison movies saturating it into mindless and predictable cliché after cliché. I was able to predict everything that would happen before it happened, and groaned almost non-stop after a while.
The script written by David Giler and director Walter Hill (the man behind my favorite movies Aliens, Warriors, and Demon Knight) lacks originality and plausibility. The movie has nothing but terrible dialogue and these drawn out monologues between the characters that are also laughable and boring. The characters spout lines like “I hear you is the champion in this place.” Come on, guys, give me something I can use. This desperately attempts to reach the younger male audience by squeezing in cameos from hip-hop stars from “yesteryear” as we get two ten second cheesy cameos from rapper “Master P”, and mind-numbingly corny cameos from music DJ Ed Lover as the boxing commentator who shouts out annoying sarcastic comments that fall flat upon arrival as every scene is accompanied by a horrible un-exciting musical score that seems like it was taken from a low-budget movie.
The entire movie attempts to build up to the last twenty minutes as a clock counts down on-screen every twenty minutes into the movie, and we see training sequences with each boxer as onlookers talk among themselves. The end where “Iceman” and Monroe battle in the steel cage is listless and dull, as the boxing scenes are unoriginal and boring, and the two actors look tired and bored as the match looks ridiculous. The final scene lacks originality and excitement, but by the time everything led up to the final match, I didn’t care. The final five minutes after the fight are so ridiculous and corny that I rolled my eyes so much I nearly caused myself a migraine. This is just a cheesy, brainless boxing movie with terrible dialogue, and a go nowhere plot with lack of focus on any character. It’s dead in the water before the climax.