Scott Adkins came into his prime as an action star at the wrong time. Just as CGI and shaky camerawork replaced practical effects, Adkins perfected what he had to offer—exceptional fighting skills.
“The 28-year-old Scott Adkins was a f-cking beast,” the actor told Polygon. “When I did Undisputed II ... I’m not going to be able to outdo that guy anymore. So for me, the interest is going toward filmmaking, story, character, acting.”
Now 43, Adkins has worked his way to the top of the direct-to-video action film market—alongside his partner-in-crime, director Isaac Florentine. The two have joined forces on numerable films, the Undisputed series being the most successful of their efforts. There are now four installments of the prison fight film storyline. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, movies in the Undisputed franchise have been viewed 1.2 billion times.
Playing the role of bad guy Yuri Boyka opposite Michael Jai White’s hero George “Iceman” Chambers, Adkins developed a worldwide cult following. Director Florentine even walked into a barbershop in Turkey to find a man getting a Boyka haircut. It’s unsurprising then that the villainous Boyka made the transition to hero in his own right, and will be the protagonist of the Undisputed television show.
Set in New York, the show will follow Boyka as he goes out on parole and into the high stakes world of international underground fighting. The crime drama won’t just be about the illegal fights, but the lucrative and intricate dealings associated with it. Shooting will begin in March 2020 in Bulgaria.
Israeli-born director Florentine found his niche in B movies, specializing in action. He wound up in the US directing Power Rangers, and used the show as a testing ground for how to best capture fight scenes. After leaving Power Rangers he returned to features, bringing with him a new skill set he continues to improve upon. Florentine sets are known as hard work, as he often employs long takes that demand not only precision and great effort from the actors but from the cameraman as well.
Adkins began his martial arts career in judo, and while he enjoyed the technical aspects he was inspired by 80’s action heroes—Van Damme in particular. He moved to Taekwondo and kickboxing, and found he had a natural talent for kicking. Acting was a much harder hill to climb. An Englishman, he eventually found roles on various BBC programs, before he was found by Florentine.
For Adkins and Florentine, the television series will mark seventeen years of working together. They first teamed up on Special Forces (2003). Adkins, who has found some higher profile roles, makes no bones about his desire to break into the A-list, saying, “I would like Hollywood, whoever they are, to at least give me a chance to show what I can do with a real budget and a good script.” Florentine, for his part, has resigned himself to his niche as the direct-to-video action king. “It used to bother me, but now I couldn’t care less. I’m grateful for what I have. I’m a very lucky person, in spite of everything,” he says.
As of yet, no potential air-date or network platform for the show has been announced.