Plot: “SCUMBAG” FAI (Nick CHEUNG), once a world champion in boxing, escapes to Macau from the loan sharks and unexpectedly encounters QI (Eddie PANG), a young fighter who is determined to win a boxing match. FAI becomes QI’s mentor and rediscovers his passion to fight not only in the ring but for his life and the people he cares about.
Review: I love going into a film with very little expectations, to then be completely blown away by it. Unbeatable is one of the most uplifting fight films I’ve seen since Rocky. Nick Cheung gives a stellar performance filled with humour, drama and sheer likability as the down on his luck Fai, a man trying to escape his past.
In the first 15-20 minutes I wasn’t sure what to make of the film but it’s simply setting up the story and characters. It opens with a sweeping vista of the mountains and is fabulously shot. Macau looks stunning and more like something from Star Wars; it should be used in more movies as it looks incredibly cinematic.
It is in the same vein as Rocky as it’s essentially about an underdog overcoming insurmountable odds, but by God does he have his work cut out for him. He befriends a young girl and her mother after a tragedy befalls them and they all try to get by as much as possible.
Unbeatable is immediately engaging and the performances are all so good that even the kid manages to not be annoying. There were moments when I was even fighting back tears as I was completely emotionally involved.
Eddie Pang’s character Qi is basically looking for his father’s approval who has become an abusive alcoholic. When his father watches him fight for the first time, his facial expression is priceless and was one of the most beautiful moments of the film. You will care about the characters and any time they fall you are right there with them.
But is there action? In the first half not so much, but when the training of Qi begins then there are MMA fights galore. Considering the film’s PG-13 rating, they are bone crunchingly authentic and utterly thrilling.
The music score is one of the best of recent times with percussion thumping through the fight scenes, sounding literally like war drums. It also has a wonderful version of The Sound of Silence originally done by Simon and Garfunkel, now redone with a more modern sound. It’s really the theme tune of the film and adds an extra bit of heart.
During the climactic fight scene, I was on the edge of my seat rooting for our hero and I found myself more emotionally involved than I have been with an American action film since Warrior.
Overall, Unbeatable is a stunning achievement as it manages to be an MMA film with heart, likable characters and great fight scenes all rolled into one. If you get a chance to see it, you definitely should as it’s the best film I’ve seen this year.