Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC for short, has amassed quite a following in less than 20 years. It's become the most popular and successful mixed martial arts organization in the world, thanks to great marketing, word-of-mouth and, most importantly, a roster of highly talented fighters representing a variety of disciplines. Although UFC tries hard to distance itself from "rasslin'" organizations like WWE---since the fights are, of course, unscripted---it still occasionally falls back on personal drama to boost intensity, much like boxing or just about any other sport. Rivalries are formed, friendships are broken and personal vendettas make heated fights even more fierce.
Long-time fans of UFC should be familiar with Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, two of the most popular and successful fighters in the promotion's short history. Once upon a time they trained together. Soon enough, they just tolerated each other. Eventually, they grew to despise one another. Their polar opposite personalities played a major part: Liddell's reserved demeanor and built-in passion for fighting drove him to be a champion, while Ortiz's cockiness and love for money are what keep him going. Their rivalry is explored during Bad Blood, which traces a decade or so of heated competition between the two in just over 70 minutes. UFC president Dana White (who obviously sides with Liddell) participates in a handful of key interviews, while the remainder of the documentary focuses on Liddell and Ortiz' personal lives, behind-the-scenes confrontations and, of course, their encounters in the Octagon.
Bad Blood has a great story at its core, even though this documentary plays it mostly by the books. It's heavily biased toward's Liddell's point of view (mostly due to White's involvement), but the core of this documentary is as heavily steeped in competition, testosterone and jaw-jacking as the sport itself. Available in Blu-Ray or DVD formats, this newly-produced documentary is a fairly well-rounded package that fans of all experience levels should enjoy. Let's take a closer look, shall we?
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, perhaps the only drawback to this video presentation is that it's 1080i and not progressive (although that's the norm for UFC Blu-Rays). With that said, Bad Blood still looks excellent: colors and black levels are crisp and consistent, while digital eyesores like edge enhancement, combing and compression artifacts are kept to a strict minimum. In fact, the only minor problems at all---digital or otherwise---seem to be source material issues. Those who saw the original matches should appreciate the quality control on display here...and most everyone else should be pleasantly surprised with the visual upgrade.
As with past UFC releases (Blu-Ray and DVD alike), the audio is presented in a fairly straightforward Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix. Not surprisingly, the fights sound more subdued and distant than they ought to, even though this dialogue-driven affair doesn't always demand more. Even within the limits of 2.0 Stereo, it's odd that at least a lossless audio track wasn't included with this release. Not surprisingly, optional Closed Captions or subtitles are not offered.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Seen above, the lightly animated menu designs are simple and easy to use. This 72-minute documentary has been divided into a generous 22 chapters and no discernable layer change was detected during playback. This one-disc release is packaged in a handsome Digibook case with a handful of photos, stats and figures printed on the interior pages. A tight paper sleeve is all that separates this Blu-Ray from the packaging, but at least the format's protective coating should prevent damage.
The main attractions here are two Bonus Fights glimpsed during the main feature; they are, of course, both complete bouts in which Liddell and Ortiz squared off. Originally shown during UFC 47 (15 minutes) and UFC 66 (25 minutes), these are great fights and thoughtful inclusions...even if we know the outcomes already. As an added bonus, the Countdown to UFC 66 is also included (25 minutes), which provides plenty of hype and trash-talking from both sides. The main feature actually does a good job of standing on its own, but these helpful extras really round out the package nicely. Presented in 16x9 widescreen, they also include multiple chapter stops for easy browsing...but again, no subtitles or Closed Captions.
UFC's Bad Blood: Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz condenses a fierce rivalry between two of its most popular icons...and though it doesn't bring anything new to the table, the story pretty much sells itself. These are two very different fighters, charismatic and highly talented in their own way, and the added layer of drama intensifies what are already great confrontations. This Blu-Ray offers a notable visual improvement over the DVD, and a few thoughtful bonus features help to seal the deal. New and old fans alike should enjoy Bad Blood, no matter which side of the fence you're on. Firmly Recommended.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, second-guessing himself and writing things in third person.
REVIEWER'S NOTE: The top image is promotional and does not reflect this release's native 1920x1080 resolution.