Fight to the Finish (2016)

Summary: A young amateur fighter makes an enemy with a hardened thug when he gets in-between his next-door neighbor and her abusive ex- boyfriend. As his personal life becomes threatened, he realizes he must finish the fight that he started, but this time they'll settle it in the ring for the championship.

I get the way Hollywood works. When something is big, it transitions its way to the big screen. And with MMA being as popular as ever, it's no surprise that more and more movies are making it a part of them. Some do it in more of a subtle manner by just mixing moves into their fight scenes. The days of people just standing there exchanging punches are over. Now the fight scenes involve submissions, take downs, ground and pound, etc... Other movies however, have made cage fighting the focal point of the movie. Granted, there is always some back story that is basically to hype up the “main event” but at the end of the day, it all gets resolved in the ring. This movie clearly falls in with the latter.

When I first read the review for this, I was expecting a cheesy version of Never Back Down and that's exactly what I got. The whole plot is just week. The overall story really has no originality at all. New guy moves into an apartment, gets in a fight with his hot neighbors ex, and then gets tormented by him until the have to fight to settle it all. I could think of quite a few movies that share the same plot line; Never Back Down, Karate Kid, No Retreat No Surrender, the list goes on. There are quite a few holes in the story as well. The most glaring being that anyone can become a professional MMA fighter whenever they choose to with virtually no training. The main character Sean is a very accomplished amateur MMA fighter but from what I can see, he is no trainer, no team, and his only sparring partner is his best friend. He doesn't want to go pro until he has the issue with his neighbor's ex Gage. The tournament where they intend to settle the score is for professional fighters only. Now Gage is an apparently an ex-con and from what I can tell, has no sanctioned fight experience. But he walks into a gym and tells the trainer her wants to fight professionally and and it is apparently no problem. Not only was he instantly made a pro fighter, he was also somehow favored to win the tournament.

On top of the loopholes, we also get some really weak character development. By really weak, I mean virtually none. The most glaring example of this Silas, one of the trainers. He was a former champion who now runs a gym and trains fighters. He seems like a great trainer. He is very hands on, always helping fighters out. Then a good portion of the way through the movie, we find out he doesn't have a good reputation because of a gambling issue. Immediately after that, he becomes that sleezy trainer who is looking for a quick pay day. He is the one who agrees to allow Gage to go pro and trains him. He also bets a boat load of money on Gage to beat Sean and win the tournament. When that doesn't happen, he tried buttering Sean up to let him be his trainer. It seemed like the first half of the movie, the writers had the idea for Silas to be the one to help Sean defeat Gage. And half way through, they came up with another idea instead and decided to run with it. In fact, as far as the writing goes, this movie has much to be desired. The plot is unoriginal, the dialogue is shaky at best, and there is almost no continuity throughout the movie. The actors didn't do a bad job, but with what they had to work with in regards to the script, they didn't really have much of a chance to pull off a great performance.

Now for my biggest problem with this movie, the issue that made it extremely hard for me to watch. The trick to making a watchable “fight movie” is the fights. Any weakness in plot or script can easily be overcome with dynamic fight scenes. Take a movie like "Kickboxer" for example. A brother seeking revenge gets a fight, spends half the movie training; all leading up to the final battle. While written well, it's not exactly oozing with originality. But what makes the movie is the final fight. It is action packed, and most importantly, it is believable. I can think of numerous movies that work the same way. Fight to the Finish is not even close to being one of them. Hell, Kevin James fighting in a UFC Main Event was more believable than every fight in this movie. Every fight is slow moving with every single move being extremely telegraphed. Fighters were going for moves from positions that no fighter would attempt. In multiple cases, the fighter would give up a dominant position by putting themselves in a vulnerable spot. Just based on how the fights turned out, I would not be surprised if someone were to tell me that the choreographer has never seen an MMA fight in their life.

Now if you are someone who likes watching any kind of fight movie, I probably wouldn't recommend this one as it will do nothing to quench your thirst for action. If you participate in any way in MMA, or are just a huge fan like myself, I would definitely recommend passing this one up. The lack of respect shown in making these fight scenes will almost certainly disgust you... it sure did me.
reviewed by Bobby

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