top of page
Peter Falk and Ving Rhames in 2002's "Undisputed."

Undisputed March 7, 2022


Walter Hill



Wesley Snipes
Ving Rhames
Peter Falk
Michael Rooker
Jon Seda
Wes Studi
Fisher Stevens
Master P







1 Hr., 33 Mins.


he only engaging thing about Walter Hill’s Undisputed (2002), an old-fashioned boxing movie, is the climactic fight the rest of the film kills time building up to. And even that’s not that great. It’s between Iceman Chambers (Ving Rhames), an internationally renowned heavyweight boxing champion, and Monroe Hutchen (Wesley Snipes), the long-running victor at the makeshift boxing program thriving at the prison

where he’s serving time for the murder of his wife. 


Chambers and Hutchen are brought together at the beginning of the movie when Chambers, as short-tempered as he is cocky, is transported to the same prison where Hutchen is locked up, a desert-locked expanse called Sweetwater. (Chambers has been convicted for rape; he claims the encounter was consensual.) The time between Chambers’ arrival and the fight — which doesn’t happen until about an hour into this 93-minute-long movie — is dramatically parched; it contains all the urgency of filler songs pillowing an album containing only a hit or two. And it doesn’t substantially develop its two leads in any way. It leans into Chambers’ toxic braggadocio and Hutchen’s lingering guilt over his wife’s death without doing much else. Hutchen in particular feels like a cipher; he’s less a person than a rival in a video game with a couple of traits to distinguish himself by.

It’s an underwhelming movie, though that shouldn’t suggest it’s without pleasure entirely. In one of his last movie roles, Peter Falk will probably make you laugh as the mafioso with much influence over the fights and the prison itself. Sailor-mouthed, placidly unfuckwithable, and squinting and speaking in a way that nearly suggests Falk is doing an impression of himself, you sense the actor having about as much fun with the role as we are watching him, savoring what little meat the movie has on its bones. And the fight the whole film leads up to is still pretty effective for what it is even if it isn’t transcendent: ballistically edited; embodied well by actors who, even if not given that compelling of characters to play, have a persuasive pugnaciousness. 

But you can’t help but watch Undisputed thinking about how much better it would be if its fighters, if not necessarily easy to root for (Hill never softens their anti-heroism), were at least fascinating and complicatedly written enough to load their blows with a noticeable cathartic release. But they aren’t, and it makes everything else about this otherwise appealingly no-frills movie feel insignificant to the point of almost disintegrating from your memory the moment it ends. C-

bottom of page