Directed by Scott Jeffrey, Rebecca Matthews, Michael Hoad
Written by Michele Pacitto, Jordan Rockwell
Starring Sarah T. Cohen, Adrian Bouchet, Richard D. Myers, Abi Casson Thompson, Michael Hoad, Ryan Davies, Lewis Sycamore, Ricardo Freitas, Serhat Metin, Frances Katz, Vaani K Sharma, AJ Blackwell, Arthur Boan, Harvey McDonald, Clive Coen, Marshall Hawkes
Former MMA champion Katrina “Hellkat” Bash (played by Sarah T. Cohen) finds herself fighting for her soul in a hellish tournament in purgatory against madmen, demons, and monsters. But is Katrina’s self-destructive streak going to hinder her from fighting at her full potential?
Pairing horror and the MMA is pretty much a no brainer as I usually wince and recoil numerous times while watching the brutal gladiatorial games. Seeing one person brutally beating on another isn’t comfortable to me, but of course, like many others, there’s a morbid car crash quality to it that keeps me from turning away.
I wish I could say HELLKAT pairs the two genres well, but it’s a film with many problems, despite having a generally interesting premise. HELLKAT’s main problem is in its camerawork and direction. There are plenty of battles in the latter portion of this film, but those looking for MMA style action are going to be sorely disappointed. In order to cover up slow movement and general inaction, the fight scenes are edited all to hell. It doesn’t help that it appears Sarah T. Cohen is replaced by a body double for most of the fight scenes, covered up by having Hellkat wear a COVID-19 protective mask while fighting. Cohen isn’t a bad actress. She has a strong presence, but lacks that kick-ass take no shit demeanor and confidence that is evident in most MMA fighters in the ring and on screen. The MMA fans who are most likely the target audience are going to be disappointed because a) they didn’t hire a cinematographer that was competent at filming action scenes or better yet actual MMA fights, and b) they failed to choreograph convincing fight scenes. Most of the fights are pretty lackluster with a few roundhouses and the occasional punch. They’re nothing like the grueling hand to hand combat you see in the octagon. If folks wanted to see tame in-the-ring action they’d watch boxing, not this.
HELLKAT attempts to tell a story about a lost soul looking to find her way by fighting in a tournament. It does that, I guess, but the film seems much more interested in highlighting long stints of moping around and acting angst-ridden and some competent creature effects. That’s great and all, but what sets this film apart from the rest of the MMA angle and that angle isn’t effective or interesting, sadly.