Riding the popularity of “Warrior”, Kevin James and Allan Loeb put together their own MMA movie. Released in October 2012, “Here Comes the Boom” was done with the help of the UFC to make for a very odd combination of a film. One part MMA action movie, and one part family fun, how does this movie fit in for fans like you and me? Let’s take a look and find out!
Kevin James plays Scott Voss, a former collegiate wrestler who has become an apathetic biology teacher at a High School in Massachusetts. If you have seen “king of Queens”, imagine that character but slightly less whiny and slightly more badass. Due to massive cutbacks at the school, his friend Marty (played by The Fonz, Henry Winkler) who runs the music dept. becomes in jeopardy of becoming unemployed. Making matters worse, Marty’s wife is pregnant (gasp)! Kevin decides to take on odd jobs to earn extra money, including teaching a class for immigrants who want to become legal citizens. Serendipity follows, as Scott meets Nico (played by Bas Rutten), who is an MMA coach, and while tutoring Nico in his home, Scott sees the UFC and learns that he can make money by fighting in the cage, and thus we have our premise.
Along the way, we also have Salma Hayek playing the love interest, in what must be her biggest dip in her motion picture career (more than Spy Kids 3-D). Salma is barely in the movie in fact, and all of her scenes are with Kevin. The best thing she does in the film is accidentally knee Kevin James in the groin at one point for real, which legitimately knocked him out for ten minutes from the pain. Otherwise, she does not contribute much to the story other than being a love interest.
As Nico, Rutten is playing himself, and he comes off the most genuine. In his apartment in the movie, there are large photos of him in action in his Pancrase days, and even his poster of his fight against Kimo in WFA (which never happened due to Kimo’s failed drug test before the show). He is a shining beacon in this film and provides the most laughs in this alleged comedy, mainly by just being his usual insane self. I rarely laughed at anything James or Winkler did, but Bas had me cracking up far more than I expected.
The movie also has other real fighters, including Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Chael Sonnen (who complains after being submitted), Satoshi Ishii, Wanderlei Silva, and Krzysztof Soszynski as the main bad guy, Ken Dietrich. Mark Dellagrotte plays himself in the film as well, helping Bas coach Scott for his fights, and Joe Rogan also plays himself as the man that gets Scott into the UFC. Gracie Barra black belt Romulo Barral also fights Kevin James in the movie, being the man to first submit the self-appointed King of Queens.
For a family friendly comedy about MMA, the movie is pretty tame to see with kids and adults (despite one scene of massive regurgitation), and a knowledge of MMA is not needed either. The movie does a good job of creating a universe to explain the very basics of MMA, giving just enough info to add tension to the fights and progress the story. I actually greatly enjoyed this simplified but not dumbed-down version of MMA for the sake of the movie, as it really did help the pacing and sense of drama to the matches.
The fights themselves are filmed very well, too well for a movie like this. If I was to compare it to “Warrior”, “Here Comes the Boom” had simpler fights that were filmed just as well as the bigger-budget drama (I can’t believe I am saying that). One of the successes of the fight scenes are the shots that feel like they are being filmed using a Go Pro camera or something similar to really get into the action and add movement and intensity to the grappling and striking. It’s very hard to simulate grappling to an audience unfamiliar with it, but “Here Comes the Boom” was very good in making it feel as important and dangerous to the viewer as the striking.
You can order “Here Comes the Boom” from Amazon.com for around $20. It’s a fun movie that is not too funny, with the exception of everything Bas Rutten does. As an MMA movie made for the masses, it’s quite good and watchable, but is overall mediocre. I enjoyed it for what it was, and the fight scenes were engaging and enjoyable, so consider it some light viewing that you can do with people who know nothing about MMA but want to watch a decent feel-good fighting movie.