Ultimate Fighting Championship – The Ultimate Fighter +
UFC 52 – Randy Couture
vs. Chuck Liddell 2 (Sports)
Sound: C+ Extras: B-/C+ Main Programs: B-/C+
One sport that has been kept underground is that of
extreme fighting, easily the most hardcore sport around. Too violent for some, just right for others,
it is a growing sport whether anyone likes it or not. So many fictional feature films fain the toughest and best
fighting around, but most of them are posers.
Even as compared to the best action film choreography, the world of the Ultimate
Fighting Championship actually offers the most extreme hand-to-hand combat
around and two new DVD releases give us a closer look.
The five-DVD Ultimate Fighter set is a television
series in brutally uncensored form as a group of men compete to be the next
major champion in a game competition not unlike the few seasons of the MTV/WWF
(now WWE) series Tuff Enough, in which the “reality” cast has to take on
each other to win the grand prize of being the best and getting a
contract. While the MTV show was
brutal, it was also humorous and had time for asides. With the kind of even tougher work required for the UFC, the
humor is much less as they display multiple martial arts skills, while both series
offered an inside look at how physical and punishing it is to make it in either
organization. Of course, the UFC has
less theatricality, as if that makes the WWE less demanding. The UFC is obviously even more dangerous,
which is amazing, so why would anyone want to get into the field?
It is a huge challenge and there are huge rewards, with
any of the participants beyond the threshold of pain. They are going to have to be desensitized and disciplined enough
to make a long career out of extreme fighting and that is why the 16 men chosen
to have the opportunity to be the next champ all seem somewhat shy early on and
need a pep talk like you have never seen before by UFC President Dana
White. Mr. White is present throughout
the series. To its credit, although it
follows what might be seen as initially a reality TV formula, these guys were
chosen for a reason. The fact that they
are so uncompromisingly men without pretense in this day and age of political
correctness is actually refreshing and they are more for real than just about
any “reality TV” cast you will see.
The first 4 DVDs have the thirteen shows, including the
finale episode, while DVD 3 is solely extras including training tips,
conditioning, definition of an ultimate fighter, technique of the week, fighter
profiles and final preliminary bouts.
This would likely be the most popular show of its kind if it could
actually be broadcast more often (something the Spike TV Network has been doing
often so far), but makes for a solid viewing experience, though it has some
major violence and very brutal language to boot.
The two teams the men are split in are named after their
coaches, who are the top men in the league and pretty much the sport: Randy
Couture and Chuck Liddell. They are the
best and for good reason. If this set
does not show why, then the UFC 52 sold separately featuring a major
championship bout between them should convince you. It is a special interest title featuring the fight with
highlights like Spanish commentary and behind the scenes of the event. There are seven bouts before them, but the
Couture/Liddell battle is the kind that puts this sport on the map as
legitimate and impressive. The great
Ken Shamrock also appears in the final fifth disc. It takes real technique and skill to do what all these men do, so
it is not senseless pure violence, no matter what it may look like otherwise.
With the WWE in flux, despite its intensity, the UFC could
be the next big thing unless some censorship creeps in. Maybe if more people became comfortable with
seeing the martial arts (and simply recognizing it) over just writing it off as
violence, nothing would surprise me.
The 1.33 x 1 image is all analog NTSC videotape that is nice and clean
for the format, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no real surrounds in any
case, but the combination is good enough for the material at hand and it is
inevitable that this sport will go digital High Definition sooner or
later. But don’t let that stop you if
you have become suddenly interested.
After al this programming, you too (like this critic) will have a whole
new respect for what the UFC offers.
- Nicholas Sheffo