British martial arts ace Gary Daniels returns to a major leading role in this underground fight film that brings more to the plate than your typical fight film.
Shane Slavin (Daniels) is an auto mechanic who used to fight for big shot gangster Danny G (Peter Weller). After Shane left the game to become a family man, his younger brother Scotty (Arkie Reece) begins to fight for Danny G. However, when he is to throw a fight and not only refuses, but takes the money and runs, he finds himself beaten to a pulp with a sixty-thousand dollar debt to the gangster/fight promoter.
With Scotty seriously injured, Shane finds himself in a situation that he finds himself unable to get out of. He must return to the underground fighting ring to pay off his brother’s debt. However, Shane learns that the rules of fighting have changed since he last fought. To win, Shane must learn ground fighting to add to his Muay Thai kickboxing skills. When Shane begins to win his fights, he finds himself being forced to take dives. This soon drives Shane to push away everyone close to him, including his wife and son, and even, his friend and co-worker at the garage. However, when Shane realizes his mistake, a tragedy occurs, forcing Shane to do what is necessary to settle the score once and for all against Danny G.
Ladies and gentlemen, there can be four simple words to describe this: Gary Daniels is back! After working a series of supporting roles in recent films like THE EXPENDABLES (2010), GAME OF DEATH (2011), and HUNT TO KILL (2011), it is great to see Daniels back in lead form, playing a former fighter who, as the title indicates, is once again forced to fight to save his brother. The film’s central plot may seem a bit similar to an earlier Daniels film, AMERICAN STREET FIGHTER (1992). However, the film surprisingly is not a typical fight film, but one that showcases Daniels as both martial artist and actor in the dramatic sense.
What is interesting about this film is that Daniels’ character of Shane knows that age and his lack of fighting skills has caught up to him. For a good portion of the first act, we see Daniels in training, getting beaten and training harder to get himself back in his prime. The second act is perhaps the most emotional, where we see Shane go from stable to unstable. Being forced to throw fights for the gangster who he once worked for, the pent-up frustration hits him hard. It forces him to fight not only for himself, but his relationships with his family and friends, who are being pushed away by his anger. Even when his brother finally admits his blame to his sister-in-law and nephew, he still gets the brunt of it from Shane. When Shane finally realizes his mistake, it proves to be too late for one person.
The supporting cast does well here too, including the original RoboCop, Peter Weller. Weller, who also played the main villain in another martial arts action film, DRAGON EYES (2012), truly looks like he is having fun in his role of gangster/fight promoter Danny G. Arkie Reece, who looks like he can pass off for Edward Furlong’s brother, plays it well as the troubled Scotty. Where Shane goes from stable to unstable, Scotty pulls a reversal. He starts out as troubled, but attempts to make up for his mistakes and for the most part, succeeds, much to the chagrin at times for the unstable Shane.
The fight choreography is done by Romanian-born martial artist Claudiu-Cristian Prisecaru. He really did quite a good job with the fight scenes here. He utilizes Daniels’ skills well in the training and ring fight sequences. He even appears in the film as a trainer of sorts of Shane during the first act. Some of the opening fight scenes, including co-star Arkie Reece against a capoerista, has an interesting use for low angle shots that work well. The choreography doesn’t suffer too much, despite some repetition of knee strikes at times. Daniels has truly kept up his skills and utilizes his agile kicking skills mixed with his Muay Thai training. He even manages to pull off some nice ground techniques that work.
If you are a fan of Gary Daniels and want to see him back in the spotlight, then FORCED TO FIGHT is definitely a must on your list. However, it is also a good film that meshes emotion with some pretty good action scenes thanks to Daniels and the supporting cast. Without a doubt, a rental for this title is recommended.
Forced to Fight (2011) • Gary Daniels • mixed martial arts • Peter Weller • underground fighting