Monroe 'Undisputed' Hutchens vs. George 'Iceman' Chambers, 'Undisputed' (2002)
The great Walter Hill's chopped-up prison boxing pits George "Iceman" Chambers (Ving Rhames), a heavyweight doing time for a rape conviction, against Monroe "Undisputed" Hutchens (Wesley Snipes), who's reigning champ at maximum-security corrections facility Sweetwater. The odds are stacked against Hutchens — as they would be against any man with Fisher Stevens for a trainer — but the men trade blows evenly, parrying and striking against a ring of metal bars and barbed wire. Under lockdown, theirs isn't a fight for money or fame, but the secret honor of determining who's the real king of the ring.
Pretend boxing skills: Snipes and Rhames are both athletic, muscular, and skilled at the art of fake fighting. They're a nice contrast in style, too, with the former a quick and wiry answer to the latter's power punching. 10
Style: The fight itself reminds you why Hill is one of the best two-fisted machismo directors of his generation, but we're docking points for casting Ed Lover as a hype-man/color commentator. When Lover goes quiet for the second half of the fight, it's no coincidence that it picks up in intensity, replacing the sound of his voice with the thwack of punches landed; the action gets a chance to speak for itself and proves to be way more eloquent. And you'd think that handheld camera was an invisible referee. 8
Stakes: No one outside of Sweetwater — and a few Vegas betting circles — will know who won this unsanctioned event, but for "Undisputed" and "Iceman," their reputations are on the line. 8
Overall rating: 8