Friday, October 12, 2012
Kevin James has too much fun in his most recent comedy that delves into the growing phenomenon of mixed martial arts, "Here Comes The Boom" (opening October 12 throughout San Diego).
Featuring sport legend Bas Rutten, and renowned coach Mark DeLagrotte as his mentors, Kevin James embarks on a predictable yet fun adventure, fighting through the ranks of the mixed martial arts (MMA) world.
James plays Scott Voss, a long since "teacher of the year" who has lost enthusiasm for his work. His fervor is rekindled when he learns that the incredibly genuine and passionate music teacher, Marty Streb (Henry Winkler), will lose his job to budget cuts. Voss happens upon former MMA fighter and coach Niko (Rutten), and after watching one UFC fight, decides he will lose as many bouts as needed to accrue the funds to save Streb's job.
Initially, Voss tries his best to lose quickly to get fast cash. But his body can only take so much, and he can earn more if he wins. He convinces Niko to let him try offense. And miraculously, the UFC, the largest MMA organization in the world, finds Voss and enlists him in an undercard fight against the perfectly intimidating Ken "The Executioner" Dietrich (played by Rutten's student, Krzysztof Soszynski).
Beyond that, everything else is predictable. Voss' life gets turned around, vigor is reignited in his friends, family and love life, jobs are saved, students are inspired, and Bas Rutten is ridiculous. It all works out in a family-friendly, PG manner.
An unexpected element of this film is the realistic and technically sound fighting, especially considering the MPAA rating is PG (for bouts of MMA sports violence, some rude humor and language). This demonstrates how far the sport has come in the eyes of the public. Jiu Jitsu and wrestling are showcased here, not just wild punches and incredible kicks. The versatility of the sport shines.
In 1990, the UFC could only operate in Las Vegas, and was generally perceived as too dangerous to be officially sanctioned. And while it still fights for its legitimacy in some states, films like "Boom" help provide a positive and accessible image of the combat sport.
James is an avid MMA fan, known to train with Rutten on a regular basis. And it shows. By the film's, end James' Voss is surprisingly fit and quick (and definitely spray tanned) -- he looks impressive.
(For those who think James might be too round and squishy to be considered a legitimate combatant, I recommend taking a glance at heavyweight star, Roy Nelson.)
"Warrior" (2011) also features realistic MMA fights, professional fighters, and a story compelling enough to get you through it all.
One of Bas Rutten's most famous fights, where he broke his opponent's liver. Yes, apparently that can happen. (Start video at 4:20 for fight end and highlights. Warning: explicit language.)
Nathan John is a former KPBS News Assistant and just couldn't stay away so now he is a guest blogger for Cinema Junkie.