Written and directed by Rob Hawk, "Fight Valley" starts with a premise that isn't half bad, considering the inroads into Hollywood blockbusters made by popular female mixed-martial artists Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey. With their high-profile success, it makes sense to capitalize on the popularity of the sport and round up a few more female fighters for a film that puts their skills at the forefront. UFC stars Miesha Tate and Cris Cyborg take supporting roles, and there's a brief appearance from Holly Holm, noted for defeating the previously untouchable Rousey.
The story is a basic revenge tale: Windsor (Susie Celek) seeks vengeance after her sister Tori (Chelsea Durkalec), known as a "knockaround girl," turns up dead after an illegal, bare-knuckle fight. With training from Jabs (Tate), Windsor transforms herself into a scrappy, tough street fighter strong enough to infiltrate the mysterious Fight Valley on the wrong side of the tracks in Camden, N.J.
It feels like punching down to evaluate "Fight Valley" on the same scale as other film releases. Much like the fighters brawling in the streets, this film is decidedly amateur. The nonprofessional actors deliver wooden line readings and are better off when they let their fists do the talking. Beyond the weak performances, the film sports dim, poorly lighted visuals and could have gone another round in the edit bay to smooth the awkward transitions and poor sound. The whole thing has a very seedy, late-night cable feel, which is where you should catch this film — and only if you're a die-hard UFC fan.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills