Mixed martial arts and cage-fighting, as seen in the recent Stephen Dorff flick Felon, are surging in popularity, no longer merely the province of dusty swathes of the middle of the country, or backwater burghs where weekend-bleeders gather to knock the shit out of one another, and cheer on the same. Ergo a collection like Cage Rage: The Superstar Collection, which showcases the best of the best from every fighting discipline — including boxing, karate, kick-boxing, wrestling, tae kwondo, jiu-jitsu, muay thai, pankration and judo — and features a wide variety of takedowns, from big-time knockouts to slick submissions.
Spread out over three discs and comprised of 59 fights in total, from the Cage Rage VII through XI events, this collection features more than six hours of British MMA action. For those interested, the first-disc bouts here are as follows, with all the brawny nicknames removed: Philly San vs. Dave Elliot, Xavier Foupa Pokam vs. Paul Daley, Ricky Andrews vs. Jeremy Bailey, Paul Jenkins vs. Ronaldo Campos, Jean Francois Lenogue vs. Damien Riccio, Samy Schiavo vs. Robbie Oliver, Emmanuel Fernandez vs. Leigh Remedios, Jess Liaudin vs. Matt Ewin, Ollie Ellis vs. Jean Silva, Michael Bisping vs. Mark Epstein, Jorge Rivera vs. Mark Weir, Peter Tiaks vs. Ian Butlin, James Nicholle vs. Suley Mahmoud, Silvio De Souza vs. Mark Epstein, Sol Gilbert vs. Jean Francois Lenogue, Jeremy Bailey vs. Phil Gildea, Matt Ewin vs. Damien Riccio, Ryan Robison vs. Kuljit Degun, Leigh Remedios vs. Ricky Salhan, Matthias Riccio vs. James Kikic, Mark Weir vs. Johil De Oliveira, and Lee Murray vs. Anderson Silva.
The bouts on the second disc are: Brad Pickett vs. Stuart Grant, Mustapha Al Turk vs. Freidoun Naghizadeh, Sami Berik vs. Addul Mohamed, Tulio Palhares vs. Alex Reid, Paul Daley vs. Jess Liaudin, Dave Elliot vs. Robbie Oliver, Ridas Vivada vs. Sol Gilbert, Samy Schiavo vs. Jean Silva, Rentato Sobral vs. Cyrille Diabate, Michael Bisping vs. Mark Epstein, Matt Lindland vs. Mark Weir, Ryan Robinson vs. Ian Freeman, Andy Walker vs. Alex De Souza, Ricky Andrews vs. Dave Lee, Brad Pickett vs. Chris Freebourne, Robert Berry vs. Andy Harby, Daniel Buzotta vs. Andy Costello, Evangelista Santos vs. Anthony Rea, Jeremy Bailey vs. Sami Berik, Jean Silva vs. Leigh Remedios, Melvin Manhoef vs. Matthias Riccio, Alex Reid vs. Jorge Rivera, Gabriel Santos vs. Mark Weir, Curtis Stout vs. Sol Gilbert, and Pierre Guillet vs. Renato Sobral.
The third disc’s bouts are: Atilla Kubilay vs. Richard Bowkett, Tom Blackledge vs. Kuljit Degun, Jess Liaudin vs. Abdul Mohamed, Robert Berry vs. Andy Costello, Brad Pickett vs. Aaron Blackwell, Henrique Santana vs. Hassan Muridi, Paul Daley vs. Paul Jenkins, Ross Mason vs. Damien Riccio, Pierre Guillet vs. Anthony Rea, Evangelista Santos vs. Mark Epstein, Mark Weir vs. Curtis Stout, and Anderson Silva vs. Jorge Rivera.
I didn’t submit to the full menu, but I did throw this on with a meal one afternoon, and in watching for about half an hour or so, several impressions were formed. First, most of the fighters, who get some camera face-time before bouts, were very respectful of one another, doling out seemingly sincere compliments, talking up their hometowns like junior emcees (“You know I’m repping for London, repping for Nottingham!”) and engaging only in light trash-talking (“Unfortunately, Paul Jenkins is like a bad can of beans whose expiration date is up, and so I’m gonna have to knock him out”). There are exceptions, but these blockheads seem to get dismissed fairly quickly.
Almost all of the bouts consist of three five-minute rounds, but it’s interesting how weight classification dictates fighting style to such a large degree, even much more so than in just boxing. Welterweight Brad Pickett comes across as balletic, almost, and other fighters employ what might best be characterized as a spider-monkey assault-style, relying on crab clinches and quick flips to gain the advantage of a physical position that will then enable them to administer punishing head blows. Overall, Robert Berry and Paul Daley seem like quite tough fellows, but one gleans how can easily brute strength, or even foot- and arm-length advantages, be flipped on their end in competitions like this.
Housed in a thick-spined Amray case with a snap-in tray, Cage Rage: The Superstar Collection is presented in full screen, with sparse supplemental features, including some promo tags and other tidbits. The video transfer is only so-so, but the camerawork and other production value of the captured fights is pretty high, with multiple angles and solid ringside commentary that talks MMA neophytes through the action, even if audiences might be left wondering exactly what “mad position” is. For sheer buy-in-bulk value, Cage Rage gets a hearty endorsement for its core constituency. To purchase the title via Amazon, click here. B+ (Collection) B- (Disc)