Still relatively unknown even seven years after its release, INTERGALACTIC COMBAT is fairly noteworthy as a low budget martial arts flick and yet still entirely overlookable. Featuring an ambitious storyline and an entire dojo's worth of martial performers, the film tries to do the absolute most it can with its limited resources but ends up overextending its reach and looking amateurish and silly. I can't fault writerdirector Ray Brady for trying, but I won't be surprised if the future installments of this intended series never come to fruition.
The story: When Earth is forcibly invited to partake in an intergalactic fighting championship by deadly aliens, a competition is held to determine our planet's best warriors. The film follows the trials and selection of the United Kingdom's national team, prior to the international trials.
The narrative here sucks, man. I've complained before about overstuffed backstories, but INTERGALACTIC COMBAT is thus far the worst offender, cramming the most intriguing part of the plot into the prologue. For the rest of the movie, the screenplay presents us with weird ideas (aliens using their hair as appendages), poorly-explained plot points (racist conspirators trying to keep the UK team all-white), and way too many characters for any audience to keep track of. Somehow, the filmmakers found time in an 84-minute film to illustrate backstories for at least nine characters, and while this is quite a feat, it's also too much to remember. Also, the movie juggles who its narrator is supposed to be until you're quite apathetic to whatever disembodied voice speaks over the scenes.
Technically, the movie remains in trouble, and its foremost problem is how very much it relies on dreadful-looking CGI. While this is used to make the alien technology and homeworlds look high-tech and impressive, the rest of the production looks bankrupt and pathetic. There's a bit of a shot-on-video feel to this one, and it's not aided by the imperfect audio, fluctuating lighting quality, and the poor conversion that renders the frame static several times. It's not the worst-looking picture I've ever seen, but it's never going to win any awards for aesthetics.
However, the main appeal here is the fight content, and in this regard, the picture flexes a bit of muscle. The collection of on screen fighters is superb: name actors include Gordon Alexander, the Rayment brothers, Silvio Simac, and Tom Wu, but no less impressive are lesser-known stars like Troy Titus-Adams, Kevin McCurdy, and Katie Cecil. The movie features an astronomical 35 full-length fight scenes; if that figure doesn't impress you, consider that the most fights Van Damme has ever had in a single movie is 21. At best, these brawls are pretty good, benefiting from the creativity of direct-to-video cinema. Disappointingly, the output can be pretty weak just as often, with many fights looking more like rehearsal tapes. With more mainstream films, I often complain about the intrusive effects of editing and the appeal of long, uninterrupted shots, but this film presents both sides of that coin - the shiny and the grimy.
If plans to make the promised sequel are still on the table, then my suggestion to the filmmakers would be to close in considerably on the strongest points. Forget about anything that requires CGI to create for now and focus on polishing the presentation of humans. Make the more mundane imagery a bit more fun to look at via better cinematography, and - I can't believe I'm writing this - consider filming fewer fights and try to make the remaining ones into show-stoppers. This movie isn't worth owning, but it has just enough going on for it that I'm truly hopeful about a potential sequel.
Review by The_Phantom_Projectionist from the Internet Movie Database.