Fans of the “Undisputed” franchise were recently greeted with some very welcome news with the announcement that the series would transition into a television series, as covered in a recent article by The Hollywood Reporter. Given that the report uses the term “reboot” in reference to the forthcoming series, it’s not entirely clear at the moment if the show will continue the story as seen in the “Undisputed” films, though the involvement of series mainstay Isaac Florentine (director of the second and third films, and producer on the fourth) would suggest some kind of connective tissue.
It also remains to be seen if the series’ headliner, Scott Adkins, will return to reprise the role of Yuri Boyka, aka The Most Complete Fighter in the World, but with the involvement of Florentine and Millennium Films, you certainly can’t be blamed for keeping your fingers crossed.
With the series set to get rolling in March 2020 in Bulgaria, fans will no doubt have plenty to theorize and speculate upon as information on the show releases. In any case, both the “Undisputed” franchise and the character of Boyka are immensely beloved by martial arts fans around the world, and the prospect of seeing Boyka returning to the ring once again is an exciting one for devotees of the series.
With that in mind, we at KFK would be remiss if we didn’t offer our thoughts on where we think the series could go in an episodic format. Depending on what level of continuity the series maintains with the films, there might be a little modification required but these bullet points would certainly form a good base for the foundation of the series.
So hold tight, readers – as the world awaits its cable or streaming debut, here is what KFK think would be great to see in “Undisputed” the series!
Here’s a true no-brainer. Boyka regards himself as The Most Complete Fighter in the World, a gift granted to him by God Himself, no less. As fans of the “Undisputed” franchise, don’t we deserve to not only see what makes Boyka tick, but where he came from, and what life experiences convinced him that his fighting skills were conferred upon him by the Almighty?
Going further than that, look at how much we’ve seen Boyka evolve over the course of three movies. He’s already in prison for first-degree murder, and he’s got no qualms whatsoever about killing anyone who grants him an unfair (and in his mind, unnecessary) advantage in a fight. By the third time we see him, Boyka’s going out of his way to beg the forgiveness of the widow of an opponent he unintentionally killed, and sacrificing everything he has to set things right. It’s obvious that a man like that has gone through an intense trial by fire even before we first meet him, and it’s a story that should be – nay, must be – explored to fully do him justice. We’ve seen Boyka fight many epic battles in the ring in his three appearances so far, but it’s clear that are many more that’s he already fought that we haven’t seen. That alone could form the basis for one seriously awesome MMA series!
Rematch with Chambers
This one is pretty self-explanatory. With the manner in which “Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing” introduced the world to the character of Yuri Boyka, the film was also orchestrating a superbly well-executed bait-and-switch. Boyka may have technically been the antagonist of the film, but not only were his fighting skills simply out-of-this-world, his mindset was that of a true warrior.
Just from seeing his livid reaction to learning that his first match with George “Iceman” Chambers had been rigged in his favour, we clearly saw just how much Boyka’s code of honour means to him. On top of that, Chambers was both written and portrayed by Michael Jai White as a hot-tempered, arrogant jerk, flagrantly abusing his timid manager and just about everyone else around him at any given time. Sure, he’d turned over a new leaf by the end of the film, but “Undisputed 2” nevertheless sets the audience up to cheer for Boyka to beat Chambers senseless for its first three-quarters. Now, after both men have gone through their own process of humbling themselves, what could be more satisfying for The Most Complete Fighter in the World than to rectify his only known defeat? If there’s one thing fans of the “Undisputed” series are collectively aching for, it’s to see Boyka and Chambers go head-to-head in the ring one last time!
Try to put yourself in Boyka’s head – God has given you a gift, only one. You are The Most Complete Fighter in the World. Of course, even with a divinely bestowed gift like that, you’re not going to be around forever. Indeed, you’re fortunate to have been able to reverse the knee injury that nearly put an end to your MMA career. Imagine sitting on the bench with a bad knee for the rest of your life, or fighting your way to the top and retiring altogether when there’s no one left to beat.
When God himself has gifted you with something so much bigger than yourself, you’re going to want that legacy to live on for all time if your name is Yuri Boyka. So what could be a better way for Boyka to honour the gift he’s been given than to take on a student and pass down his knowledge of fighting? This wouldn’t have to be the entire focus of the show; it could easily be handled as a B-story to the main arc of the series, or perhaps compartmentalized into a handful of episodes as a one-off story with Boyka nearing his retirement.
However, the idea of Boyka mentoring another up-and-coming fighter to effectively assume the mantle of The Most Complete Fighter in the World would be, we think, a perfect continuation of his journey. And, in this current era of warrior women dominating action films, the series could do a lot worse than to throw us a real curveball by making his apprentice female, as well.
Boyka’s Enemies List
Scott Adkins may have carved out his most iconic role as Yuri Bokya, but he’s hardly the only martial arts virtuoso the “Undisputed” series has roped into its cast. “Undisputed 2”, of course, set him opposite Michael Jai White, while 2010’s “Undisputed 3: Redemption” pulled in Marko Zaror as the devilishly sleazy Dolor, along with stunt veteran Ilram Choi and Capoeira master Lateef Crowder. “Boyka: Undisputed 4” only ramped up its talent roster further by recruiting the likes of Brahim Achabbakhe, Emilien De Falco, Andy Nguyen, and the towering Martyn Ford, along with the film’s own fight choreographer, the astonishingly nimble Tim Man.
And, even before the series shifted from boxing to MMA, the original “Undisputed” had two genuinely physically talented leads anchoring the film in the form of Wesley Snipes and Vhing Rhames. For action aficionados, the “Undisputed” series is arguably rivalled in the English-speaking world only by the “John Wick” franchise for pulling in a Murderers’ Row of martial arts masters to do their thing. So, it simply goes without saying that “Undisputed” has that bar to clear as its launches itself into the world of episodic television.
Aside from the aforementioned rematch with Chambers, seeing Dolor return for some payback would certainly be a delight for fans. However, what would also make a superb addition to the “Undisputed” canon would be to see Boyka face-off with some of the alumni of the game changer that was “The Raid” films. It was just a few months ago that we saw Scott trading blows with Iko Uwais (himself soon to be seen in his own upcoming martial arts series, Netflix’s “Wu Assassins”) in “Triple Threat”, and this summer’s “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” recruited the immense talents of Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman. All three would make for a suitably tough set of adversaries for Boyka and the series could take that magic even further with Joe Taslim, who’s recently gotten to channel both anti-hero and villain alike in “The Night Comes for Us” and Cinemax’s “Warrior”.
Obviously, “The Raid” crew would hardly be the ONLY solid choices to give Boyka a run for his money, but as anyone who’s seen any one of the films listed above can attest, they’d get “Undisputed: The Series” off to a fantastic start!
Bokya Hits the Big Time
Boyka’s character arc in the “Undisputed” films has been a fascinating one to follow, one that’s seen him chasing the dragon in some form or fashion over the course of three movies.
We’ve seen him rise to the top of the prison MMA world in “Undisputed 2”, only to fall to the bottom and have to climb back up in “Undisputed 3”. The latter ended with Boyka running off to finally claim his freedom with a briefcase full of money by his side, and “Boyka: Undisputed 4” saw him finally on the verge of achieving his dream, only to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of a woman whose life he inadvertently destroyed, and find himself in prison once more.
Through it all, we’ve seen Boyka humble himself after realizing he wasn’t quite ready to take the title of the Most Complete Fighter in the World, along with redeeming himself as a man for the guilt he’s come to feel over the lives he’s taken in the past. With all of that in mind, what could be more fitting, and more earned, of an outcome than for Boyka to finally get everything he’s ever wanted?
What if Boyka not only made it out of prison for good, but actually fulfilled his greatest ambition and made it to all the way to the top of the MMA world? Imagine Yuri Boyka stepping into the Octagon, a literal stadium of fans cheering “Boy-ka! Boy-ka! Boy-ka!” as The Most Complete Fighter in the World makes his professional debut in the UFC’s biggest title card yet. “Boyka goes pro” alone could make for a truly thrilling series, and that’s without even getting into the dozens of other directions the show could take that premise just by itself.
We’ve followed Boyka as he’s had his dreams and his knee built up, shattered, and rebuilt stronger than ever before. He’s earned his shot at the big time, and there’s arguably no better storyline for “Undisputed: The Series” to take him on than to finally put him in reach of everything he’s ever dreamed of…