(Review By Adam Wing)
Mixed Martial Arts fans rejoice - it’s the movie event you’ve all been waiting for. I know, I know, sometimes I forget you can’t type sarcastically. With a title like Circle of Pain, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pressed play on the remote control, but my expectations weren’t exactly soaring if I’m completely honest. I was hoping for a horror movie at the very least, and when I realised the only name I recognised was former TV Superman Dean Cain, I convinced myself that I’d be watching a horror movie in which he has a terrifying encounter with Mr Pain. Probably in a circle, or maybe not, perhaps I was taking the film title a little too literally.
Dalton Hunt (Schiena) has retired from the Revolution Fight Club (RFC), even though he still has one match left on his contract. He lost his passion after a sparring match with best friend Wyatt (Cain) left Teri Hatcher’s former on-screen love interest in a wheelchair for life. If his performance in Circle of Pain is anything to go by, the only thing Dalton has to feel guilty about is not finishing him off. Five years after this tragic event, he is forced to fulfil his contract. Which means, you guessed it, "one last fight" and yet another action movie cliché.
His opponent is a scary, Mohawk endorsing badass called Colin. That’s right, his name is Colin. Wait just a second - there’s more. His opponent is a scary, Mohawk endorsing badass called Colin ‘The Brick’ Wahle (Herring). That’s better. Dalton must train harder than ever before (that’s not a cliché is it?), because if he doesn’t, Victoria (Ling) and her evil cronies will kill his family and friends. Even the elderly couple across the street.
Wait just a second, what do you mean that’s not how it goes? The truth is, if Dalton chooses not to fight, Victoria has no intention of killing his family or friends. Not even the elderly couple across the street. Instead, wait for it - she has a despicable plan to throw his ex-family out on the street. Not even his current family. He’s pretty much single at the start of the movie, so you know, what’s an evil boss lady to do in a movie like this? That’s pretty much the entire plot of the film, brought to you by Daniel Zirilli, the director of Fast Girl and The Stonecutters. Like I’m expecting you to watch them anytime soon…
Fans of Asian cinema will no doubt recognise leading lady Bai Ling. She appeared in cult favourite Dumplings, as well as Hollywood offerings like Crank 2: High Voltage, Wild Wild West and The Crow. The rest of the cast is largely made up of TV actors with credits like Lost and CSI NY to their name. I doubt you’ll recognise them unless you’re fans of MMA, but it’s fair to say that leading man Tony Schiena has quite the colourful past.
Tony won hundreds of tournaments around the globe, but an accident in which he broke both his ankles resulted in him retiring from fighting and concentrating on developing new fighting concepts. He was a prominent figure in the field of security in England, The Middle East and Africa, and became the striking coach for the US MMA M1 Team. Not only that, he is a member of the International Police Association, the International Bodyguard and Security Services Association, and various other security and martial arts organizations. Tony was also honoured with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the Hungarian National Guard, but despite all this, his movies are rubbish. Talking of which, he can next be seen in the 2011 offering The Door, which will presumably be rubbish as well.
Circle of Pain is a terrible movie whichever way you cut it. The acting is wooden, the fight choreography lifeless, and the filmmakers run out of ideas halfway through. So much so in fact, Circle of Pain turns into a soft porn movie ahead of the final showdown. Not such a bad thing I hear you cry, at least we can praise the producers for covering all bases. The sex scenes add nothing but flesh to the mix, and seem out of place with the rest of the movie. My favourite offering, of which there are three, takes place in the kitchen diner of Colin ‘The Brick’ Wahle’s plush pad. The young girl, listed in the credits as ‘hot girl’ no doubt, is quite possibly a prostitute, we never really find out. The male participant can best be described as a supporting player (it's an awkward position), has the smallest part imaginable (somebody stop me) and yet still manages to bag himself a sex scene. He must’ve thought it was his lucky day.
Circle of Pain is one of the least entertaining movies I’ve seen in a while, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Well maybe three, but who’s counting? Only die hard MMA fans will take anything away with them from this, and maybe the naked guy in the kitchen, I didn’t google his name. I’ll have it ready for next time. Some things are worth fighting for, this isn’t one of them. Circle of Pain is quite possibly the most appropriately named movie of the year, make of that what you will.