In the titanic tradition of not-that-good movies about guys beating the crap out of each other--many of them brought to us by the purveyors of fine cinema Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus--comes this film about two men slugging it out in a cage. And just like such classics as Bloodsport and King of the Kickboxers, here we have a movie that trusts its audience's desire to see asskicking will outweigh its desire to see a good film--in which case you're almost in luck with Maximum Cage Fighting. "Almost" is the operative word, because while Maximum Cage Fighting certainly qualifies as a film that is "not good," the asskicking quota isn't quite enough to excuse the never-ending list of other cinematic shortcomings.
Jason Field stars As Jimmy Garren, the former Tae Kwon Do world champion who now runs his own martial arts school while raising his daughter, Katie (Kellsi Chischilly). Over ten years earlier, Jimmy beat Nick "the Nasty" Harper (Chris Torres) in a tournament, and even though Nasty is the three-time mixed martial arts champion of Maximum Cage Fighting (an Ultimate Fighting Championship rip-off) he still carries a grudge. Nick the Nasty wants another shot at Jimmy, but the unassuming father wants nothing to do with cage-fighting. Rather than take "no" for an answer, Nick the Nasty dispatches his sinister henchmen, who kidnap Jimmy's daughter, thereby forcing our hero to do the thing that makes the most sense: fly to Brazil so he can be trained by world famous Brazilian ju-jitsu expert Renzo Gracie (Renzo Gracie as himself). Tagging along with Jimmy is his former Tae Kwon Do sensei, Master Chong (Jun Chong). Once in Brazil, Jimmy has a series of "adventures" that includes falling for the wife of his friend--who really isn't his friend after all--and getting into a fight where he messes up his knee. But Jimmy can't let his injury stop him, because Nick the Nasty will kill his daughter if he doesn't fight (he will also kill the girl if Jimmy wins the fight, and since she can implicate him in kidnapping, we can only assume he will kill her just for the hell of it).
Maximum Cage Fighting takes place in an alternate universe where intelligence and common sense are completely nonexistent. The entire premise of the film is ridiculous, rivaling Karate Kid 3 and the entire Best of the Best franchise it its audacious stupidity. The movie almost works as a comedy, except it isn't supposed to be funny, and even though it almost produces unintentional laughs, it doesn't even manage to get that right. The result is a bad movie that is almost laughable, but not quite, that piles on the ludicrous clichés with wild abandon.
It is easy to overlook and excuse a lot of deficiencies in talent and quality with films of this nature, as long as the movie delivers with quality foot-to-ass action. And while Maximum Cage Fighting has no shortage of bad writing, acting and production values, it fails to deliver enough action to make it worth the time and effort of watching. The sad attempt at giving this film some sort of character and backstory is sabotaged by a script that is bad from start to finish. And again, this would be excusable if the action were better, but it isn't. You're better off watching Chee Keong Cheung's Underground, which delivers the sort of no-holds-barred beat-downs that Maximum Cage Fighting is in desperate need of.
Maximum Cage Fighting is presented in widescreen format. The picture quality is good, and the photography and lighting are probably the most professional elements of the production.
Maximum Cage Fighting is presented in 5.1 Surround Sound. The audio mix is good, but the sound levels are pretty high, even with the volume turned down, everything seems pretty loud. This is especially true whenever the music kicks in, which is always a good time to turn the volume waaaaaaay down, because the music leaves a lot to be desired.
A brief behind the scenes featurette shows how some of the fight sequences were put together, but at no point is there footage of the writers going over stupid ideas and tired clichés they can use to make this film seem as maudlin, ridiculous and predictable as it is.
If watching a real cage fight is not entertaining enough for you, then maybe you should try cage fighting yourself. Either way, there's no point in watching this movie.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]