The Circuit is another in the seemingly endless stream of tournament fight films. The genre truly was heralded by Bruce Lee’s vastly influential 1973 film Enter the Dragon. That film made Lee a star, introduced the west to martial arts films and set the rules for the sub-genre. Now, thirty years later comes Olivier Gruner in The Circuit which carries on the long-standing tradition of being an unworthy addition to the mix.
Dirk Longstreet (Olivier Gruner) is a college athletics coach. I’m not sure which sport be oversees as his players run laps, fight, and confusing wear football pants. However, his brother and star athlete Jeremy has been forced to fight in an illegal underground circuit to pay off a debt owed to a powerful gangster (Bryan Genesse). This requires Dirk to try to save his sibling by substituting himself in the arena instead. Unbeknownst to all is that the reigning champion is not one, but actually a set of twin-brothers that are secretly trading off opponents in an unbeaten streak.
The only fun in The Circuit is catching glimpses of genre pros like Loren Avedon, Billy Drago, and Bryan Genesse hamming it up. It’s a nice change of pace to see Drago cast as a good guy and not the perpetual bad guys he always seems to play. The choreography is lousy and the location of the big event is drab and visually uninteresting. For a movie that is about arena fighting the actual fights are the worst part. Props to Gruner and company for bringing their brand of charisma to a flawed and economically strained project.
Director: Jalal Merhi
Stars: Olivier Gruner, Bryan Genesse, Billy Drago, Loren Avedon