Female Fight Club, 2016.
Directed by Miguel A. Ferrer.
Starring Amy Johnston, Cortney Palm, Rey Goyos, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Zito, Levy Tran, Shaun Brown, Sean Faris, and Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez.
A retired fighter reluctantly returns to the sport in order to rescue her sister from an unscrupulous underground promoter.
Female Fight Club is obviously a title designed to evoke a certain idea, and when you have action legend Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV/Universal Soldier) and stunt coordinator Amy Johnston (Deadpool/Suicide Squad) amongst the cast then you would assume the ingredients are in place for a rollicking action rollercoaster in the vein of other fighting competition movies like Bloodsport, Enter the Dragon or even something brutal but a little more thought-provoking, like Fight Club of course. Well, think on because despite lofty ambitions, Female Fight Club has the heart but not the stamina to go the distance against any of those classics.
But it tries, and that is just about enough to make it worth checking out if you’re a fan of martial arts action movies because, as you would expect with Amy Johnston in the lead role, there are a few nicely shot combat sequences. However, there are only a few fight scenes as opposed to keeping up some sort of momentum as the writers have tried to build a story that desperately wants us to invest in the main characters in order to garner some emotional response to their plight and – surprise, surprise – it just doesn’t. The film begins fairly strongly as we are introduced to Becca (Johnston), a former street fighter with something of a name in underground circles who gave up the violent lifestyle and now works in an animal shelter. We are also introduced to her father (Lundgren), who is seen being led off by the police during the aftermath of a grisly mass murder and it soon becomes clear that Becca’s family life is somewhat troubled as her sister Kate (Cortney Palm – Zombeavers) comes begging for money to get out of debt with an unscrupulous fight promoter called Landon Jones (Rey Goyos – The Dark Knight Rises). Becca refuses but when Kate is arrested she decides to help out, training Kate and her team of female fighters to take on Jones’ unbeaten champion Claire The Bull (stunt artist Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez) for a huge payday.
Of course, there are other factors involved, such as Becca reconnecting with her old flame Potter (Sean Faris – Never Back Down) in a plot thread that doesn’t really do anything or go anywhere and the story of what happened to her father which, had it been handled better, should have had more emotional content than it has rather than been the shoulder-shrugging reveal that it ends up being. Aside from Dolph being given short shrift – yes, the film isn’t about him but he’s only in a few small scenes when his character should have been more prominent – there is also the character of gym owner Zeke (Chuck Zito – Sons of Anarchy), who is probably the best character in the film and had the potential to be something more than the slight comic relief role that he is given. Interestingly, he does bear something of a resemblance to Sylvester Stallone which could have been played on a bit seeing as we have Dolph here but, alas, it was not to be.
As well as momentum, what the film really lacks is a credible villain as not only is Landon Jones a ridiculous character who keeps Claire The Bull’s former opponents in a freezer with his ice lollies (why?) but his portrayal by Rey Goyos is all over the place. Granted, the writing isn’t great but Goyos and director Miguel A. Ferrer clearly don’t know how to pitch the right level of zany and dangerous and Jones comes off as laughable. Perhaps the intent was to make him childish and have him look like a teenager could knock him out in order to make his fighters look more intimidating but as he’s not really portrayed as that much of a threat he could probably be written out of the script and it wouldn’t hurt it all that much.
Overall, Female Fight Club looks nice, the acting isn’t that bad considering most of the cast aren’t really actors and the fight scenes, when they happen, are very well shot but it feels like the filmmakers were trying to throw too much into the mix and not as much of it sticks as they would probably have liked. Dolph Lundgren and Chuck Zito provide the best character moments which, along with Dolph being plastered all over the poster, isn’t really the point of a female-led action movie, especially one that features the impressive skills of Amy Johnston playing second best to weak writing and dumb characters. A shame as there was potential for Female Fight Club to be a lot more than the one-watch curiosity it will inevitably end up being.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ / Movie ★ ★