Sunday, May 28, 2017

EDITORIAL: Has Video Piracy KO’d Yuri Boyka & The 'Undisputed' Franchise?

The Undisputed franchise began in in 2002, however British martial arts actor Scott Adkins didn’t join the franchise until Undisputed II: Last Man Standing, which was released in 2006, when he took on the role of the antagonist, Yuri Boyka to Michael Jai White’s protagonist, George Chambers (taking over the role formerly played by Ving Rhames). 

It’s stated on the IMDB page for Undisputed II that Nu Image originally opposed Scott Adkins playing the role of the Russian mixed martial arts fighter Yuri Boyka, because they had envisioned him being played by a taller and heavier actor.  In response, Scott Adkins put more muscle weight onto his already athletic body to take on the appearance of the intimidating character. Despite these possible misgivings from the Studio, Scott Adkins played the role so convincingly that Yuri Boyka became a very popular character. So, popular in fact, that Adkins was brought back to play the role again in Undisputed III: Redemption as the protagonist and new star of the franchise and again in Undisputed IV.

Undisputed IV has yet to be released, having been held back from its original release date of early 2016. Somehow that hasn’t stopped video pirates from getting their hands on a copy of the movie and offering it for free on illegal download sites or selling pirated copies. This has become a point of frustration for Scott Adkins and for the future of his character, Yuri Boyka and the Undisputed franchise. Adkins recently posted this reply on his twitter when asked by a follower if there would be an Undisputed V:

There are a lot of articles out there on the net that document how pirating movies damages and impacts the job market in the entertainment industry. It has been estimated that on a yearly basis, more than 300,000 people that depend on copyrighted industries lose their jobs as a direct result of piracy. This includes not just the authors of creative works, but all those who derive their income from producing and distributing their work—movie theater staff, video store operators, movie extras, sound technicians, set decorators, even the caterers who supply the set or studio with food, and the drivers that transport the crews.

Those who download pirated copies of movie like Undisputed IV have knowledge of these facts about how much money the entertainment industry loses, especially the lower budget, direct-to-DVD movies like the ones that Scott Adkins is mostly involved in, and some take the attitude that it’s not on them to be concerned about it. 

Piracy may seem harmless from the outside, but it’s affecting real people like Scott Adkins and the fans of his character, Yuri Boyka. Scott had this to say in a twitter reply to being sent a link about illegal Kodi box now carrying a 10-year jail sentence:

Scott Adkins was very recently interviewed that MCM London Comic Con by Tanavip for MCMBUZZ, in which Adkins again brought up the subject of how the piracy of his movie Undisputed IV has affected the prospect of there being a fifth film. 
Scott Adkins is very vocal about how this issue frustrates him as he points out that only big movies that go into theaters make money and that genre specific, generally direct-to-DVD movies like his rely heavily on being purchased legally by people who want to see them.  He stressed very strongly the fact that when a film is copied or made available online, it reduces the value of that film around the world, especially the genre niche films like the Undisputed franchise.

“We need your support, do you not realize that if you are torrenting them all the time and not paying for them, they are going to go away.” Scott Adkins told the audience at this interview panel and you could hear in his voice how important this issue was to him and how much it bothers him as a hardworking actor that this is happening to his film and that torrenting is causing the DVD market to die.

He also went on to talk about how someone will invariably come on his Facebook page and post about having seen Undisputed IV and they say how great it was, telling him ‘well done’. Scott Adkins had a sharp response to those comments:

“I know you downloaded it for free, so why don’t you take your thanks elsewhere because, to be honest, it needs to make money or we can’t make another one.”   

Scott Adkins went on to repeat that pirating or watching downloads for free illegally is not a victimless crime before moving away from the topic that he is clearly passionate about and frustrated about as an actor/writer/producer of films that rely on being purchased legally to survive. 

It’s not a victimless crime as Adkins so rightly points out. Maybe the facts about people losing jobs in the entertainment industry or that pirating of movies like Undisputed IV is too nebulous a concept for those who download illegally to concern themselves with. So, let’s look at the cost of pirating or illegally downloading as it means in a more personal manner: 

It may very well have robbed the fans of the Undisputed franchise and of Yuri Boyka the opportunity to see another movie made. All those who chant “Boyka, Boyka!” will have those words falling on deaf ears as Yuri Boyka will have been KO’d by those who supported the piracy and the illegal downloading of Undisputed IV. Scott Adkins might very well have no choice but to walk away from that part of his film career.  Video pirating is not a victimless crime…just ask Yuri Boyka, who may never enter the ring again. 
Watch the full Video of Scott Adkins interview for MCMBUZZ

All images of Scott Adkins twitter quotes are used with express permission from Scott Adkins for this article and are copyright 2017 to Scott Adkins, who retains ownership.

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