Director: Allan Unger
Review By: Fridae Mattas
Thursday evening a good friend and I went to check out the Toronto premier of indie MMA flick “Tapped”? Or is it “Tapped Out”? I don’t know which title because in the film it says “Tapped” but on all the posters it says “Tapped Out”. I guess the editors forgot to fix that, as they did with many things in this film. Not to be confused with the 2003 film “Tapped Out”, starring Coolio ha ha completely different. I have been hearing a lot of hype about this film, like it’s Canada’s MMA Karate Kid…Does it live up to the hype?
Once at the theater, we took the elevator up hoping we weren’t late and of course I almost crash into a few of the actors. One of them was C-list Model/Actor Nick Bateman whom I’ve come across before on various sets but totally didn’t recognize him. Bateman’s biggest role to date was playing one of the asshole villains in “Hobo With A Shot Gun”. He also had a few lines in this movie at the beginning. As random people were taking photos on the red carpet, we were trying to bypass, it was mucho tacky…I’m used to red carpets being outside the entrance of the theater. Anyway, we made it just in time to get seats but not the best ones. Tapped Out was filmed in parts of Toronto and London, Ontario where principal actor Cody Hackman “Michael Shaw” is from. Hackman plays a troubled orphaned teen who ends up doing community service at “Reggie’s” run down Karate dojo, played by Michael Biehn.
At the dojo Michael Shaw (Hackman) meets Jen (Jess Brown) Reggie’s niece, she takes him to an underground mma fight where he spots the man who killed his parents. After a botched first attempt at killing the films villain, “Dominic Gray” played by UFC veteran Krzysztof Soszynski. Hackman’s character begins training for his revenge fight behind Reggie’s back, the Mr. Miyagi of the film.
Now, before I continue with the film review I will tell you a little bit about my Martial Arts history. As a Sensei’s daughter I grew up learning a variety of Martial Arts, my father began teaching me at the age of three. If I wasn’t singing and dancing all over the place, I was in a corner observing him teach his students. We watched every Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and martial arts film ever made, along with all the gangster movies. My Dad was known on the scene as “Tommy The Karatista” and learned from one of the best! His Master was a student of Bruce Lee’s as was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Chuck Norris. Long story short, it’s in my blood, I knew about Mixed Martial Arts before I was ten. MMA is a full contact combat sport that utilizes grapple style fighting with striking, very similar to the Ancient Greek “Pankration”. In today’s MMA they often use a mix of Brazil’s Vale Tudo and Jiu-Jitsu among the many other styles.
Quite hilarious to me that they even tried to compare this film with any of the Karate Kid films, they didn’t even have a special move unless of course you count his only move, the super punch…Even the “Next Karate Kid” with Hilary Swank, turned out better, that is my favorite in the series for obvious reasons…I am a girl and we never have females kicking serious ass. My Dad actually knew the real Karate Kid Ralph Macchio…This ghetto ass attempt is a disgrace, the only reason why people even care about the film is because of the real MMA fighters in the movie. For those who hated the Jaden Smith adaptation of Karate Kid, this film is far worse. The opening scene you couldn’t really get oriented because the camera was continually shaky and unfocused. For the next scene I was hoping for more stability with the cinematography, nope. Starting to feel nauseous and the fight scenes had yet to begin, I already couldn’t wait to leave. I was ready to tap the fuck out of tapped out. Where we sat didn’t help the situation but I’ve sat closer at other movies without wanting to hurl. In many scenes the music didn’t fit and you could hear the volume frequently change, the levels were off. Some of the editing was patchy and was extremly obvious when they switched up the camera guys. Particularly in the shots with Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. Those two professional MMA’s are on the front of the poster, but were actually in the film for maybe ten minutes, giving Hackman’s character a crash course in MMA fighting.
Cody Hackman as an actor…You could tell this was his first principal role and would have never been casted as a martial artist or actor in another person’s film. His skill did not land him the part, his own “Hackybox Pictures” funded the project until Lionsgate for some odd reason picked it up. There was no connection with Michael Shaw, I was actually kind of rooting for the bad guy even though I knew the predictability of this film, it has been done. Hackman’s acting level is a ten on the Kristen Stewart chart of shitty acting. Realistically, Cody is what like 5’2 with a pudgy middle that you could see on screen, how the fuck is he going to beat a 6’1 monster like KSos? No referee in their right mind would sanction them to fight against each other. The story is underdeveloped without any subplots, coming off as shoddy and thrown together. Too many clichés not enough substance, skimming the surface of what they were attempting to do. Don’t understand why Director Allan Unger had Hackman in every scene? None of the other characters had any back story’s, even though they could have expanded on a few key moments instead of unnecessarily dragging out other scenes. The best actor in this film other than Michael Biehn is the female lead played by Jess Brown, she was more likable than her costar. It is quite obvious that Unger does not know how to direct action sequences very well. The only legit Karate Kid tie to this film is Martin Kove (Cobra Kai Sensei), who plays the Dean of the high school, since when do high schools have Deans?
The comments are endless yet this is not the worst indie film I have seen…Most definitely the worst attempt at a martial arts film. They didn’t even have your classic shot of bloodspit flying out of a fighters mouth in slow motion during the tournament or any of the fight scenes. I hope “Tapped Out” does not hit theaters in this condition, I would recommend another edit because this shit was sloppy. Fans of MMA, if you have absolutely nothing to do and this film is on TV where it should be, then watch it. Glad I saw what the hype was about and wish I could get those two hours of my life back! If I had paid to see this movie, they would be giving me my money back. You think I’m being too blunt, if this film hits the big screen for others to see…Guaranteed it will get ripped to shreds by all of the other film critics. I tried to enjoy the fight scenes and sometimes I did, but there was not enough suspense or action. I give this film a D grade. COPYRIGHT © 2014 FRIDAE MATTAS. All Rights Reserved