Unbeatable (film)

Directed by Dante Lam
Produced by Candy Leung
Written by
  • Dante Lam
  • Jack Ng
  • Fung Chi-fung
Music by Henry Lai
Cinematography Kenny Tse
Edited by Azrael Chung
  • Bona Film Group
  • Bona Entertainment
  • Film Fireworks
Distributed by Distribution Workshop (Hong Kong)
Tianjin Bona Cultural Media (China)
Release dates
  • June 18, 2013 (2013-06-18) (Shanghai International Film Festival)
  • August 15, 2013 (2013-08-15) (Hong Kong)
  • August 16, 2013 (2013-08-16) (China)
Running time
116 minutes (Hong Kong)
122 minutes (China)
  • Hong Kong
  • China
Language Cantonese
Box office US$25,816,154[1]

Unbeatable (激戰) is a 2013 Hong Kong–Chinese sports drama film directed by Dante Lam. The film had its premiere at the Shanghai International Film Festival on June 18, 2013.[2]


Ching Fai (Nick Cheung) is a former boxing champion who has struggled since his glory days, having gone to prison over involvement with the Triads due to financial problems and now working as a taxi driver. When Triad loan sharks torch his taxi and chase him down for money he owed, Fai decides to flee to Macau to avoid them.

In Macau, Fai accepts a job offer from an old friend to work as an assistant in a gym, while renting a room with a feisty young girl Peidan (Crystal Lee), who has been taking care of her psychologically unstable mother (Mei Ting) since her four-year-old son drowned and her husband left her for another woman. At the gym, Fai meets a young man, Lin Siqi (Eddie Peng) who wishes to learn Mixed Martial Arts in order to join an upcoming MMA tournament, the "Golden Rumble", which offers the winner millions of dollars - his motivation for doing so is to help out his father, a businessman who had recently lost a fortune due to a failed "flipping" deal, which has turned him into a depressed drunkard. Fai agrees.

For the next several months before the tournament, Fai has Lin follow a strict training regimen, and at the same time he develops a bond with Peidan and her mother. After the tournament begins, Lin struggles but is able to beat several opponents, making it into the semi-finals, impressing both Fai and Lin's father, but also gets the attention of the Triads. Later, while celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival, loan sharks unexpectedly show up to attack Fai and Peidan's family. Fai fends them off, but Peidan is hurt in the process. As she is hospitalized, social services are also alerted to the fact that her mother is psychologically unfit to take care of a child. When she is told that Peidan's father is returning to take custody of Peidan, she violently assaults a social worker, immediately causing her to be placed into a mental hospital. At the same time, Lin faces his toughest opponent yet, and loses badly after his arm and neck are broken.

Believing that he has "done nothing" for twenty years, Fai decides to join the tournament himself and trains vigorously for it, and is selected to enter the finals. Peidan's father also comes to meet Fai, and although Fai feels indifferent towards him at first, the father tells him that Peidan has agreed to live with him, but only if Fai wins in the tournament. After a brutal fight watched by many, including Lin in the hospital, Fai ultimately emerges victorious (by taking advantage of his easily dislocated right shoulder), and Lin is so excited over the victory that he leaps out of his wheelchair, cured.

With his newly earned fortune, Fai pays off his loans and meets Peidan one last time, while also continuing to visit Peidan's mother. He later meets a now recovered Lin, and the two joke about the injuries that they have each endured in the ring.



An early title English-language title for the film was MMA.[2] The film was written by Jack Ng, Dante Lam and Fung Chi-fung.[2] Ng and Lam had previously worked together on The Viral Factor, The Stool Pigeon, and Fire of Conscience.[3][4][5]


The film had premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival on June 18, 2013.[2] It was released in China on August 16, 2013.[2]


Critical response

Clarence Tsui of the Hollywood Reporter writes, "It’s this mix of tears and laughter amidst the blood, sweat and broken necks that makes Unbeatable an enjoyable vehicle."[6]

Andrew Chan of the Film Critics Circle of Australia writes, "Unbeatable is one of those films that never stops to excite, entertain, inspire and finally understand. It is an accomplished effort from a director very much in his prime and also bringing a veteran actor to even greater heights."[7]

Kevin Ma of LoveHKFilm states that "with a career-best performance by Nick Cheung, a script infused with great humor and MMA scenes that will please action fanboys, this sports drama is Dante Lam’s best film since The Beast Stalker and easily his most purely enjoyable to date. Unbeatable offers nothing new, but it’s solid genre entertainment." He informs audiences that "Unbeatable’s selling point is mixed martial arts, but it’s really a character-driven drama about three troubled souls in Macau," using the words "uplifting" and "inspiring" to describe the film.[8]

Box office

By 1 September 2013, Unbeatable has earned over HK$32.5 million in the box office of Hong Kong. It is the highest-grossing film of the summer and also the highest grossing locally produced film of 2013. Lead actor Cheung Ka-Fai said he will appear in eight cinemas to thank the cinema goers' support and drive the box office results further up.[9] Near the end of September, the film has made over HK$43 million.[10]


33rd Hong Kong Film Awards[11]
Nominee Awards Results
- Best Film Nominated
Dante Lam Best Director Nominated
Nick Cheung Best Actor Won
Eddie Peng Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Crystal Lee Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Dante Lam, Chi Fung Fung, Wai Lun Ng Best Screenplay Nominated
Kenny Tse Best Cinematography Nominated
Phyllis Cheng Best Sound Design Nominated
Wai Chiu Chung Best Film Editing Nominated
Henry Lai Best Original Film Score Nominated
Chi Wah Ling Best Action Choreography Nominated
2014 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards[12]
Nominee Awards Results
- Film of Merit Won
Nick Cheung Best Actor Won
16th Shanghai International Film Festival[13]
Nominee Awards Results
Nick Cheung Best Actor Won
Crystal Lee Best Actress Won
50th Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards[14]
Nominee Awards Results
Nick Cheung Best Actor Nominated
Eddie Peng Best Supporting Actor Nominated
Crystal Lee Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Phyllis Cheng Best Sound Effects Nominated
Azrael Chung Best Editing Nominated
Ling Chi-Wah Best Action Choreography Nominated


  1. "JI ZHAN (UNBEATABLE)". Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Elley, Derek (June 25, 2013). "Unbeatable". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  3. Elley, Derek (February 2, 2012). "The Viral Factor". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  4. Elley, Derek (September 22, 2010). "The Stool Pigeon". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  5. Elley, Derek (May 14, 2010). "Fire of Conscience". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  6. Clarence Tsui (12 August 2013). "Unbeatable". The Hollywood Reporter.
  7. Andrew Chan (29 August 2013). "Unbeatable". [HK Neo Reviews].
  8. Kevin Ma (June 2013). "Unbeatable". LoveHKFilm.
  9. (traditional Chinese (HK))"《激戰》狂收3255萬 張家輝謝票". Sina Hong Kong (Ming Pao). 3 September 2013.
  10. (traditional Chinese (HK))"每週詳細票房 2013年9月16日 - 2013年9月22日". Hong Kong Filmart. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  11. "33rd Hong Kong Film Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  12. "33rd Hong Kong Film Society Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  13. "Russian film awarded top prize in Shanghai film festival". 16th Shanghai International Film Festival. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  14. "50th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival -Nominees & Winners". Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
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