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FILM REVIEW: RAMPAGE JACKSON & “The A Team”

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Quinton “Rampage” Jackson blamed the time he took off to film “The A Team” for his recent loss to Rashad Evans in UFC 114.  But if you ask me Jackson looked more like an MMA fighter in the movie than the brawler we saw in the Octagon a couple weeks ago.

First things first, this is an MMA site but I was invited to the screening so I’m writing a movie review.  If you were a fan of the 80’s television show then you should be satisfied after seeing this movie.  You don’t get bad impersonations of Hannibal, Face, Murdock and B.A., but this movie doesn’t exactly come off as original.  The whole “specialize in ridiculous missions” attitude sounded suspiciously Mission Impossible-esque.  Once the movie got going I felt like I was watching a much lesser version of an MI movie, although thankfully there was no  Tom Cruise.

Originality aside this is a summer popcorn movie so you should not go in expecting to see Liam Neeson put on another Oscar-worthy performance.  However the movie isn’t a lowest common denominator POS like “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”    Sure you get your obligatory over the top CG action sequences, as well as a few decent comedy bits from Sharlto Copley as “Murdock.”  However I thought whenever you have the likes of an A-List hottie, such as Jessica Biel,  in a movie like this some indulgent semi-nude shots as well as close ups of that beautiful behind were obligatory as well.  In this regard “The A Team” failed.

So if you go in with a blank slate and no expectations then you can have some good old fashioned fun at the movies.  Afterwards, when you bolt during the credits for the restroom like most of the crowd and drain the gallon of soda you drank you’ll pretty much never think of the movie again.

As I said earlier the Quinton I saw in the movie looked more like an MMA fighter than what we recently saw of him in the cage.  Sure, Jackson may have suffered a little ring rust in his last fight, but even before his last performance it seemed like he was interested in being nothing more but a brawler.  What happened to the Rampage of the past who raged forward with heavy hands and body slams?     Where’s the brutal ground and pound and knees in the clinch?  In the movie we actually see Rampage put a bad guy away with a body slam.  In the movie we actually see Rampage put a bad guy a way with a kick.  It’d be nice to see him showcase his other skills as opposed to just throwing leather.  Those were the thoughts going through my mind as I watched him in the movie.

I also had a laugh which I could only share with myself during the movie and it came when Hannibal was facing off against a bad guy and they had this hokey discussion about Muay Thai and BJJ during a fight scene.  I said to myself, “Considering how he’s fought recently, this movie is the closest Rampage has been associated with anything having Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in it.”

Will this movie springboard the former UFC light heavyweight champion into other big Hollywood productions?  I would lean towards answering unlikely.  We all know how colorful and charismatic Rampage is, but I don’t think much of that translated onto the silver screen.  Thankfully he was good enough to avoid giving us a Mr. T ripoff performance, for even Rampage admitted he likes Mr. T’s B.A. Baracus better.  I don’t know that he really did enough to make non-MMAers take notice.  At the screening I attended I heard a lot of the big “cinema heads” asking each other if Rampage was a wrestler or something.  That perhaps is the biggest disappointment I take from the movie.

I was hoping a summer movie like “The A Team” would bring even more interest to the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts, but I don’t think film will do that at all.  If perhaps Jackson had beaten Evans via spectacular highlight à la his Liddel knockout or Arona powerbomb then there might have been a bigger push to get Rampage more face time in promoting the movie.  But then again maybe the whole “A Team” experience, coupled with his loss to Rashad, will awaken the beast inside the Wolf’s Lair fighter and he’ll rediscover the “Rampage” of old.  A possible rematch with Forrest Griffin is making the rumor rounds, and if Quinton has learned anything, it’s going to take more than a boxing game to beat Forrest.

L.J. Tabano is the co-editor of Chicago’s MMA.

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