Fleeing to Macau to escape loan sharks, a former mixed-martial arts champion becomes embroiled in the lives of a psychologically troubled single mother and a young wannabe fighter, in Hong Kong auteur Dante Lam’s stylish and compelling action-drama.
Contemporary World Cinema
Unbeatable is not just another fight flick. The latest action-drama by Hong Kong auteur Dante Lam, set in the mixed-martial-arts world, is a film with broad appeal, one that can satisfy the appetites of disparate audiences, from genre aficionados to lovers of Asian melodrama, from the young to the old — ladies included.
Former boxing champion Chin Fai (superbly played by Nick Cheung) has moved to Macau to escape the loan sharks on his trail. Unable to afford a flat on his own, he rents a room in the rundown apartment of Gwen (Mei Ting), a single mother suffering from mental disorders she developed after a terrible family accident. Struggling to keep her mother from plunging into madness is ten-year-old Dani (an amazing Crystal Lee, who won Best Actress for her performance at the Shanghai International film festival). At the gym where he does menial chores to make ends meet, Fai meets Lin Siqi (Eddie Peng), who wants to enter an MMA championship to prove himself to his father (Jack Kao).
Lam delivers masterful combat scenes, rendering his characters' technique and emotions with equal dexterity, but the focus of the film remains the lives of these damaged, unlikely heroes. The "Raging War" of the original Chinese title, Ji Zhan, seems to refer not only to the furious fights within the ring but also to their the characters' life struggles.
A compelling tale of endurance, impeccably
directed, Unbeatable is moving,
uplifting, and entertaining.