Director: Miguel Ferrer
Script: Miguel Ferrer & Anastazja Davis
Cast: Amy Johnston, Cortney Palm, Dolph Lundgren, Sean Faris, Folake Olowoyoku, Jeanette Samano, Levy Tran, Chuck Zito, Rey Goyos, Shawn Brown
Running time: 87 minutes
When former fighter Rebecca (Amy Johnston) is filmed taking out some aggressive clients at the dog sanctuary that she works at, and the subsequent footage is shared on social media, her younger sister, Kate (Cortney Palm), turns up at her door asking her for help. She’s gotten herself into trouble and owes a local fight promoter a load of money and he’s threatening to get heavy with her if she doesn’t pay up. After initially refusing to lend her any money Rebecca reluctantly agrees to return to Las Vegas to help train Kate and her team of down-on-their-luck fighter friends on how to fight properly in a sort of underground MMA tournament where contestants can either come away with a lot of money or a lot of broken ribs, or worse!
At first Kate and her fellow wannabe fighters don’t get on too well having ‘Bex the Beast’ (aka Rebecca) coaching them, but they start to slowly improve so, unwisely, think they’re ready to fight in the next tournament. Somewhat predictably the tournament doesn’t go the team’s way, and all, but Kate, are eliminated in swift succession by the reigning champion. Things get worse when said champion (Claire?) surprises Kate later and beats her up in an alley, resulting in her ending up in hospital. With medical bills for her and her son, Zeke, mounting up, Becky finally agrees to take her sister’s place in the biannual free-fight championship with the intention of winning the main cash prize in order to free her little sister from debt. Will Rebecca win the tournament; will her sister and son be safe; can their dad (Dolph Lundgren) clear his name and get out of jail; do we really care?!
Female Fight Club is something of a schizophrenic movie, in that it can’t seem to decide which audience it wants to appeal to – those who love martial arts movies or those who prefer kitchen sink style dramas. As a result, sadly, it straddles the line between the two subgenres and will, therefore, probably not appeal to either camp.
The film’s focus appears to be mostly on Rebecca, her sister, and their estranged father who, it seems, might be in prison under false pretences. This is all fine and dandy, but by trying to address too many family issues the film gets side-tracked away from what it seems to be selling itself on, namely the fighting and tournament side of things. In fact, probably the best choreographed fight scene in the film is a more incidental fight in prison, where the father takes on three goons out to do him harm in a mechanic’s workshop. This is a fun fight and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Lundgren himself had choregraphed it. Most of the girl on girl fights are pretty lame, to be honest, apart from the final scrap in the gangster’s lair between Becky and Claire, the bad girl.
Don’t get me wrong, fight fans will probably still enjoy the film, but perhaps not in the way they originally envisaged they would. In fact, some might find more issue with some of the dialogue, which can be trite and even offensive at times. For example, Rebecca calls one of the fighting girls ‘spring roll’, probably because of her Asian origins! Another issue I had with the film was the main villain, the fight promoter, who is about as threatening as a wet sandwich! A poor casting choice, for sure. Oh, and the tournament fights are frequently ruined by the camera spending way too much time filming the audience reactions to the fights rather than the fights themselves – what was that all about?
On the plus side though, some of the locations used are suitably effective as scuzzy fight arenas, and most of the cast look their parts, even if the acting is variable, to put it politely. As for Amy Johnston, she’s clearly very comfortable dishing out high kicks, but when it comes to drama still needs more practice since she currently seems to have just two facial expressions for most of the movie – pouty and brooding, and pissed off! But she’s very easy on the eye, and I hope she’ll have more opportunities to act going forward.
Cineville International is distributing Female Fight Club on DVD. The only extra on the disc was a trailer for the film, which was nicely cut, and, in true trailer style makes the film out to be better than it actually is… A shame really, as I’d have liked to have learned more about the making of the film.