Beyond the Ring

| January 18, 2008

Beyond the Ring showcases martial arts champion Andre Lima in his first starring role. Based on true events, this story (co-written by Andre Lima) tells of a retired fighter’s plight after his daughter is diagnosed with a brain tumor. When the insurance company refuses to pay for necessary surgery, he can’t cover the expensive hospital bills. He accepts an offer to return to the underground circuit for a one-time fight against Zulu, who has remained undefeated for four years. Lima trains hard in preparation, doing the obligatory training montage.
As his family struggles to come to terms with the girl’s diagnosis, Lima faces another opponent in his brother-in-law, played by Martin Kove of Karate Kid fame. (He played the evil sensei–think “Finish him!”). Lima’s BIL cannot accept the insurance company’s refusal to pay, and believes the fight should play out in court, not in the ring. Adding to the star power, Gary Busey plays Lima’s publicist. Busey’s character also has his hand in the underground fighting circuit ring, and extends Lima the offer to fight. But is he Lima’s friend?
Busey is the brightest bulb in this film. Magnetic as he is, ogling his assistant and plotting over the fighting world, the film is still poorly written, with poor acting overall. The pace is very slow, and the plot takes a long time to arrive at its foregone conclusion. The fight scenes, which ought to be the best part of the movie, look faked and too often are reduced to slow-motion. Even the final fight between Zulu and Lima seems designed to prevent the fighters from making contact. Lima’s face is usually down, but every so often, he raises his head and the bloody makeup is shocking, since we haven’t seen any hits make contact!
Though the story is designed to tug at heartstrings, Lima’s acting is wooden. In fact, showing emotion seems a struggle for most everyone involved. Lima would be better off as a supporting character with a lot less dialogue. This movie is definitely a miss. It’d be great to say that the fight scenes are worth sitting through Beyond the Ring, but they’re not. Extra features consist of trailers, optional Spanish subtitles, and a two-part “Making of” documentary that includes Kove’s comparison of this film to Karate Kid.

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