There are some movies, when you watch them, you can't help but feel you've seen them before. That's because these particular movies are hackneyed jumbles of tired clichés and predictable stories that have already been told time and time again. Once in a while these films manage to at the very least be mildly entertaining, even if it's in a so-bad-it-is-good kind of way. But when a film doesn't even manage to be that--when it is entirely predictable and equally engaging--then you're saddled with something that may not exactly be crap, but by the same measure isn't close to be good. And that's what you have with Confessions of a Pit Fighter.
Argentine martial arts superstar Hector Echavarria stars as Eddie Castillo, a super badass pit fighter--which is the same as a bare-knuckle street brawler--who goes to prison after beating a man to death. When he finally gets out of jail and tries to return to a normal life, Eddie finds that his younger brother David (Ricardo Medina) has taken up pit fighting. David is working with Sharkey (James Russo), a philosophizing trainer, and Lucky (Flavor Flav), a hustling fight promoter. But when David refuses to throw a fight, nefarious gangster Argento (Armand Assante) vows to get even, and has his champion fighter Matador (UFC champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) deliver a permanent beat down on Eddie's younger brother. Eddie vows revenge, and even though he swore to never fight again, and even though he has a parole officer (John Savage) dogging his every move in the hopes he'll slip up and go back to prison, our hero does what he must. Soon Eddie is preparing for the fight of his life, but not before he hops in the sack with Argento's abused girlfriend Gizelle (Giselle D'Cole). And if any of this sounds familiar, it would be because between Jean Claude Van Damme and Don "the Dragon" Wilson alone this story has already been done to death.
As far as low budget, B-movie martial arts action thrillers go, Confessions of a Pit Fighter is made with more competence than many others. But what is that really saying? The movie suffers from uneven casting, which ranges from seasoned veterans like Assante, Russo and Savage, who all seem to be slumming it, to non-actors struggling to be convincing (that would be Echavarria and Flavor Flav) to the less than star-making performance by Jackson, who grunts and growls as much as Mr. T in Rocky III, only without any of the memorable dialog. The rest of the film takes its cue from the cast, providing a mixed bag of tricks that includes production values that could be described as "marginally proficient" to a script that can be described as "a waste of the paper it was printed on."
To be sure, Confessions of a Pit Fighter is not a good film. But compared to other films with pretty much the exact same plot, as well as other films directed by the questionably skilled Art Camacho, it is not terrible. With films like this, the crapitude is measured in varying degrees. If you were to pay hard earned cash to watch this thing, then you would be wasting your money. Even if it was a one dollar rental, you be wasting money. But if this were on cable, and was essentially free, then it would only constitute a waste of time, which some people don't mind wasting. Furthermore, if you had insomnia, and Confessions of a Pit Fighter was on cable, and there was nothing else on, and you were too tired to get up and look for a DVD to put in, or too tired to break out your old VCR and look through the collection of VHS tapes in storage, then this film might be worth watching.
Confessions of a Pit Fighter is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. The picture quality is one of the things the movie has a right to brag about, as it is crisp and clean, with a solid image transfer.
Confessions of a Pit Fighter is presented with 2.0 Dolby Digital, in English, with optional subtitles in English or Spanish. The sound quality is fair to poor, with some variation in the levels, as well as the audio mix.
Scene selection. Oh wait...that's not a bonus feature.
If you are channel surfing on cable, and Confessions of Pit Fighter happens to be on, and at the exact same moment the batteries in your remote control die, making it impossible to change the channel, and both of your legs are broken, so you can't get up and manually switch to something else, then by all means keep watching.
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]