His name might not be as recognisable as John Rambo or John McClane but there is no doubt that Yuri Boyka should be mentioned in the same sentence.
For the 3 of you who have never heard of him, he is a character in Undisputed 2 & 3 and he is the most complete fighter in the world. Played to perfection by Scott Adkins, Boyka starts off as the villain of Undisputed 2.
The story involves George “Iceman” Chambers (Michael Jai White) visiting the Russian Federation for a series of boxing matches, he is subsequently framed for possession of cocaine and sent to prison. There, he discovers a series of illegal full-contact Mixed Martial Arts matches dominated by inmate Uri Boyka.
Boyka is an arrogant, terrifying force of nature in the ring and it’s hard to believe that he is the same “nice guy” from Ninja, Scott Adkins.
Although essentially the villain, Boyka does have a code of honour and he doesn’t condone cheating in any way. If he wins a fight it has to be because of his skill, not for money. When Chambers meets Boyka in the ring for the first time, it appears that Chambers has the upper hand. We then discover that his water has been drugged and he starts to lose focus. He then gets defeated by Boyka and begins to heal. When Chambers confronts Boyka about it, he is genuinely shocked. Boyka asks his cronies if they drugged Chambers and when they tell him that they did, he chokes one of them to death. Boyka has been dishonoured and agrees to a rematch with Chambers, this time without any drugs. He is badly defeated by Chambers and is left a broken and humiliated man.
In Undisputed 3: Redemption we revisit Yuri Boyka after his battle with Chambers and he is now mopping floors, with long dirty hair and no confidence. His leg is in a brace after his fight with Chambers and he hasn’t fought since. He meets a new inmate called Turbo who he reluctantly befriends and he starts to fight again. Boyka regains his confidence and now wants to reclaim his dignity; we are now 100% on his side. He wins various fights and he and Turbo eventually escape. Obviously there is a lot more to the story here but what am I? The narrator? Go watch the films!
Anyway, Yuri Boyka is such a well defined character with a brilliant story arc. Starting off as a tough as nails villain, to broken down loser, to champion and good guy at the end. It’s hard to imagine any other actor aside from Adkins portraying this role as effectively. He makes Boyka utterly believable where you fear him when you’re meant to and like him at the same time. That is why Boyka is and always will be an icon of action.
Now everybody say it with me: BOYKA! BOYKA! BOYKA! BOYKA!