This week’s Netflix pick was recommended by host Joey DiCarlo. The martial arts masterpiece Boyka: Undisputed is the fourth in the series but that’s irrelevant. The only thing that really matters is how hard hitting and badass the martial arts are.
The titular hero, Boyka (Scott Adkins) is trying to live a clean life. He’s a brutal fighter in the ring but claims that his gift is one from God and that not using it would be a waste. Boyka accidentally kills a man during a fight. Overcome with grief he journeys to find the man’s widow to make it up for her. When Boyka finds Alma (Teodora Duhovnikova) she is indentured to a crime lord for her husband’s debts. Boyka accepts a challenge from the crime lord to fight in a series of fights in exchange for Alma’s freedom.
The plot is pretty simple. It moves along and not a ton of extra time is spent on character development. I didn’t see the first three Boyka films so maybe that is part of it, or it may be because the plot is essentially a thread to get the audience from one epic fight scene to the next.
To Boyka’s credit (the movie not the character) while the plot isn’t the most complex it is coherent and ever present. Even big studio movies of late have a bad tendency of going on off-shoots for no real reason. Boyka never veers off the path, thin as that path is.
The acting in the movie is also not fantastic. The focus is on the martial arts, not the acting. No one is so terrible it breaks all the good will the martial arts aspects of the movie create. The performances are wooden and the dialogue is clunky.
Now that the not-so-great aspects are out of the way we can really dig into what Boyka is about. Kick ass martial arts. Boyka is a kick boxer. It’s clear by the choreography the movie was made by fighters, if not fighters people who love the craft so much they would dedicate months to meticulously laying out intricate and electrified fight scenes for a movie.
I wasn’t sold on Boyka as a recommendation, that lasted all of 90 seconds once it started. The martial arts are legit. The sound editing makes you feel every blow. Sure the punches and kicks are movie-wide and the stances lead the fighters open to more abuse than a fighter would generally allow, but the fighting is some of the most exciting fights I’ve seen on screen since The Raid. The best part about such high quality fight scenes is that the movie doesn’t just pepper in a few and make you slug through a standard story. The fights happen every ten minutes and some last just as long. Perfection.
The simple plot doesn’t get in the way of the absolutely staggering martial arts scenes. The fights are plentiful and never lack in quality. The physicality of all actors and stuntmen involved makes up for any shortcomings in dialogue delivery or plot. Watch Boyka. You will not regret it.