In short, this is not a bad movie but it still makes some bad choices with its storytelling though, which prevents this movie from ever turning into a truly good one.
Really, I like sports movies and that includes fight movies. Sure, they are all incredibly formulaic and very predictable in one way or the other but they are often very uplifting and engaging movies to watch as well. This movie...not so much. It's mostly because the story makes some odd choices, which does ruin the overall credibility of the movie a bit.
First of all, it just feels wrong how a karate trainee uses his skills in a MMA tournament. Isn't karate a noble sport, that should never be used on the streets or to harm another person with? Well, you can say what you will about MMA but it's anything but a noble sport in my opinion. It feels ever more wrong for a karate teacher to help and train the main protagonist to fight and win the MMA tournament. I don't practice karate but even I though that the whole premise and concept was a pretty offensive one, in regards to the sport.
But no, it didn't get too much in the way of the movie. I could still enjoy the movie for what it was and I definitely wasn't taking the movie too seriously. It's obvious to me that the movie is more of an entertaining one anyway, as opposed to one that's also trying to bring lots of drama and realism into the story.
But because of this approach, the moments that are still supposed to work out as dramatic and engaging just never quite work out that way. The main character joins the tournament for some very personal reasons but it just never feels all that personal, not even when he's fighting 'the main villain' of the movie, which is the main thing the movie is constantly building up towards. Maybe this is not just because of its story or approach but also because of the acting. Sorry to say but Cody Hackman, who also helped to write the story, just isn't a very good or likable enough main character for this movie. He lacks the right sort of charisma and acting skills and it's hard to truly get behind his motivations and to root for him.
It's also highly unconvincing that an untrained karate expert could possibly become a successful MMA fighter, within the course of a couple of weeks. It's made all the more unconvincing by the casting of the movie. Sure, Cody Hackman knows how to fight but when he's standing in the ring opposite the well trained and huge Krzysztof Soszynski he suddenly looks like a very tiny and weak opponent, yet we are supposed to believe that they are worthy of each other.
The movie further more is filled with all of the usual genre clichés. Yes, there even is a training montage and of course a typical love-story as well. It's nothing too bad but it's still disappointing to see how this movie isn't really ever being surprising or creative enough with anything.
It's not the worst made movie you can watch and it's still an OK enough one if you are into these type of movies but it's still an heavily flawed one as well, with both its story and approach.