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Undisputed: Why Adkins' Boyka Is Still The Franchise's Best Villain


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Despite being the face of the Undisputed franchise, Yuri Boyka remains its best villain. First appearing in Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing, Boyka's debut was where the series really took off following the negligible impact of 2002's Undisputed. With the series switching gears from boxing to MMA, Boyka came to define the series with his warrior's mindset and sense of honor, along with becoming the signature role of Scott Adkins.

The tradition of the franchise at the time was for the villain of the previous installment to become the protagonist of the next, with Boyka taking center stage in Undisputed 3: Redemption. By that point, Boyka was far too embedded in the series and popular to even consider moving on without him, leading to the character evolving into a hero for Boyka: Undisputed. The paradoxical thing about Boyka though, and what makes him such a compelling character, is the fact that although he would become the protagonist, the Undisputed franchise has also never seen a better bad guy.

Part of that comes down to Adkins being the man to portray him. Though he's occasionally played more light-hearted characters like Max Cloud, Adkins excels at channeling darker, more morally grey characters. Boyka's combination of pride, determination, and fighting skill played into Adkins' strengths, and though he was the antagonist of Undisputed 2, he was one who viewers felt like they could get behind.

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The movie also played a brilliant sleight of hand through Michael Jai White's performance as protagonist George "Iceman" Chambers. Having been the villain of the first Undisputed (played by Ving Rhames), White played Chambers as a self-absorbed, entitled jerk, and though he'd turn over a new leaf by the end, audiences would actually find themselves rooting for Boyka. Chambers' transformation also highlighted that Boyka had let his own pride get the best of him, and left with a shattered knee and his first defeat in the ring, Boyka came to realize he'd have to truly earn the title of the Most Complete Fighter in the World.

Boyka is also unique among the other villains in the series. Chambers grew into a much better man during Undisputed 2 but wasn't that deep of a villain in the original. Marko Zaror's Dolor was a fantastic adversary for Boyka, but by design, he was also a narcissistic contrast to Boyka's honor code. Martyn Ford's Koshmar in Boyka: Undisputed was as challenging an opponent as Boyka has faced, while the series' assorted gangsters, prison wardens, and ring opponents all tested Boyka in their own ways.

Nonetheless, Boyka is the only antagonist who was not only the hero of his own story but who believed himself to be chosen by God. Though his remorse in the fourth movie for his past misdeeds was clearly genuine, no other villain was ever as assured of themselves, nor did any ever have such an inviolable edict of integrity. These traits served Boyka well when he transitioned into a hero and showed that he was simply misguided when viewers first met him. Still, for as selfless a hero as Boyka would evolve into, when it comes to the villains of the Undisputed franchise, this is another area where he has no equal.

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