Welcome to Sudden Death (2020)

Dazzler Media presents a re-imagining of the nineties action classic, with action legend Michael Jai White delivering the explosive martial arts mayhem! Available to order from Amazon and view via Universal All Access!



Martial arts action legend Michael Jai White stars as “Jesse Freeman”, a former soldier working as a security guard. A genuine martial artist known for his disciplined approach to training, MJW holds eight black belts in a variety of styles. As an accomplished actor he has delivered memorable performances in movies such as “Tyson”, “Spawn”, “Universal Soldier: The Return”, “Exit Wounds”, “The Dark Knight”, “Black Dynamite”, “Blood & Bone”, “Undisputed II: Last Man Standing”, “Never Back Down 2 & 3”, “Falcon Rising”, “Accident Man”, “Triple Threat” and many more.

Canadian actor Michael Eklund plays CIA agent turned terrorist “Jobe/ Alpha”. He has featured in several movies and popular television series including “Battlestar Galactica”, “Intelligence”, “Arrow”, “Bates Motel”, “Continuum”, “Altered Carbon”, “Wynonna Earp”, and “Van Helsing”, to name but a few.

Making up the support cast are Sabryn Rock as “Diana”, the wealthy target of the terrorists’ demands, Anthony Grant plays “Milli” a hip hop star, with Gary Owen appearing as “Gus”, the stadium maintenance man.

Gary Owens stars as Die Hard fan Gus

Gary Owens stars as Die Hard fan Gus

Bringing their fighting skills to the table for Team Bad Guy are Michael Jai White’s wife Gillian as “Gamma, and the acclaimed martial artist, trainer and choreographer Marrese Crump as “Omega”.


Jesse Freeman is a former special forces soldier and explosives expert now working as a security guard in a state-of-the-art sports arena.

Trouble erupts when a tech-savvy cadre of terrorists kidnap the team’s owner and Jesse’s daughter during opening night.

Facing a ticking clock and impossible odds, it’s up to Jesse to not only save them, but also a full house of fans.

A highlight is a three on one battle

A highlight is a three on one battle


Looking in as great a shape as he’s ever been, Michael Jai White plays U.S. soldier Jesse Freeman, who has been captured by a non-descript Middle Eastern enemy. The main titles have barely finished before he uses his impressive martial arts skills to escape his brutal torturers.

MJW’s Got Plenty of Combat Tricks on Hand

Fast forward to the present, and Jesse is now working as a security guard at a sports stadium. A simple situation dealing with a couple of unruly spectators demonstrates that Jesse still has a few tricks up his sleeve as he easily restrains them.

It’s not long before our bad guys are demonstrating their own skills and it’s immediately obvious that they’re ruthless killers. Unfortunately for them they have taken the wrong security guard’s daughter hostage.

MMA-Style Fight with Real-Life Wife, Gillian

Michael Jai White’s first encounter turns a weights room into a bruising battle arena. He also has a particularly vicious MMA-style fight with Gamma, played by his real life wife Gillian – hard hits and kicks are obviously a family trait!

Fists & Feet: MJW’s Weapons of Choice!

Freeman methodically works through the bad guys as he makes his way around the stadium in search of his daughter Mara. He rarely uses anything but his fists and feet as weapons to bludgeon his opponents.

Superb Fight with the Acclaimed Marrese Crump

A highlight is a three-on-one fight in the changing rooms as Cypress Hill’s How I Could Just Kill a Man plays in the background, that builds to an excellent mano y mano duel with Marrese Crump. It’s the one time in the movie where I felt Freeman was actually facing an opponent of at least equivalent ability, and therefore posed a genuine threat to his health!

Jesse is taking his kids to the game of their lives

Jesse is taking his kids to the game of their lives

Slick Choreography with Plenty of Kyokushin Karate

For the most part the fights are slickly choreographed with MJW performing authentic-looking fighting skills, with plenty of his favoured Kyokushin Karate thrown in. A few of the supporting cast occasionally look a little out of their depth in comparison to Michael Jai White, with the action looking at it’s best when stunt doubles take their place.


The original “Sudden Death” was one of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s better efforts, following a trend of “Die Hard on a Battleship”, “Die Hard on a Passenger Plane”, “Die Hard on a Speeding Bus” etc. that dominated many nineties action films. This iteration even jokingly refers to the series of classic Bruce Willis films!

Comparisons with JCVD’s original are going to be inevitable. In the nineties version, Van Damme felt like an everyman, blue collar guy, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jesse Freeman on the other hand looks physically superhuman and fights with such skill that you never doubt that the bad guys are in for a hiding!

Freeman will whoop everyone who stands between him and his daughter

Freeman will whoop everyone who stands between him and his daughter

The main villain in the original was played by a scene-chewing Powers Boothe, who took the ridiculous premise and just had fun with it. Michael Eklund plays it a little straighter, slightly unhinged, but ultimately less threatening and certainly less entertaining. To be fair to Eklund, it was a tall order to live up to.

Where this film excels over the original is the fight scenes.

There are many of them, all allowing Michael Jai White to play to his strengths. Particularly impressive in the action scenes is Marrese Crump as the cold and brutal bad guy “Omega”. I would have happily watched more featuring him. There is a great accompanying hip hop soundtrack that plays over the fights too.

Forget the original version exists and just enjoy watching Michael Jai White whooping everyone who stands between him and his daughter. With a running time of around 70 minutes, this is an uncomplicated fix of non-stop, slick martial-arts action.

Favourite Quotes

  • “Son I need you to be a soldier right now. I need you to follow orders.” – Jesse Freeman
  • “I don’t talk to strangers. Didn’t your momma teach you that?” – Mara
  • “I swear, you touch her, you die”. – Jesse Freeman


  • This is a remake of 1995’s “Sudden Death” that is more true to the original action-comedy tone intended for that movie before it was re-written as a much more serious action-thriller.
  • Michael Jai White also starred in “Universal Soldier” and “Universal Soldier: The Return” with Jean-Claude Van Damme, the star of “Sudden Death”.
  • Michael Eklund and Michael Jai White both appeared in the second season of “Arrow”.
Welcome to Sudden Death (2020) - KUNG FU KINGDOM

Welcome to Sudden Death (2020) – KUNG FU KINGDOM

Film Rating: 7/10 

Order your DVD copy of this slick martial arts actioner from Amazon and enjoy watching Michael Jai White whoop everyone’s…you know what!

Get “Welcome to Sudden Death” from Amazon, now!

Did you enjoy the original 1995 version starring JCVD, how do you feel it compares? Is Michael Jai White among your favourite action stars – what’s your fave MJW movie? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!

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Glen Stanway

Influenced by the movies of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Glen began training in martial arts and gymnastics in 1995. He made his first of many visits to Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 to learn Chin Woo kung fu under the supervision of Master Teng Wie Yoo. Glen is the author of "The Art of Coaching" and "Fearless The Story of Chin Woo Kung Fu", and runs a kung fu & kickboxing school in Hertfordshire, England.

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