Written by Evan Braun
I don’t particularly like boxing, or wrestling for that matter. Martial arts don’t usually turn my crank either, so it’s a little inexplicable for me to be such a UFC fan. And yet, I am. Very much so.
This season introduces a lot of great new talent. Many of the competitors have crossed over from the show to the massively popular monthly pay-per-view events for which UFC has become famous. If you’re a fan of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), this set will offer you everything you could possibly ask for. Not only is the fighting incredible, but you get an invaluable look at the preparation that goes into each match-up. From jui-jutsu and judo to Muay Thai and karate, the regimen these guys go through is nothing short of amazing.
But just in case you’re like me and fighting doesn’t float your boat, there’s still plenty to draw you in. Fill a house with sixteen angry, competitive, testosterone-charged men looking to knock each other out of the running and you’ve finally got yourself a reality show worth paying attention to. It’s amazing how little it takes to push these guys over the edge. A few of them clearly have the emotional age of 5-year olds, making for some explosive situations. Make sure the kids are out of range, though; not surprisingly, the language and intensity can get a little rough.
The bitterness and insecurity comes to a boil with the pitting of legendary rivals Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock as coaches of the two teams. Unfortunately, here’s where the season starts to go off the rails. Their mutual hatred for each other grows a little tired after the first few episodes leaving the producers to pull every conceivable trick to extend the rivalry.
The last half of the season is also plagued with injuries and frustrating early departures, leaving some disappointing final match-ups. Nonetheless, with new stars like Michael Bisping, Ed Herman, and Kendall Grove, there’s just enough going on to keep you riveted right up to the final event, originally broadcast live from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
As exciting as the action is, the quality video is pretty grainy for DVD, especially the footage shot in the house which tends to be a little too dark. The colour isn’t altogether spectacular, either, and the full screen transfer is run-of-the-mill.
Where the video is just medicore, though, I found the audio to be unusually good. It’s amazing that, during the fights, when everything is screaming, grunting, coaching, and cheering, you can make out all the distinct voices. I’m not sure how everything was miked, but it was expertly mixed.l
My expectation for extras is usually pretty high, but by any standards this release is very _skimpy_. The final disc includes an extended version of the first episode, which is fine except I can’t understand why they didn’t put it on the first disc. The way it is, by the time you get to the end of the set, the last thing you want to do is rewatch Episode 1.
Also included are short video profiles for some of the finalists, but they don’t reveal any information you wouldn’t have got from the show itself. Finally, the producers thought it would be fun to show us some of the best and worth video auditions. Unfortunately, the worst are particularly unfunny and the best (from the castmembers eventually chosen) aren’t really all that memorable.
If you’re looking for great fights, consider this a glowing recommendation. If you’re looking for exciting drama, there’s a bit of that too. The technical specifications aren’t spectacular, but also not bottom-of-the-barrel. All in all, it’s a winner … just not an ultimate one.