Most knockout compilations suck. It's just a plain fact. You get ahold of them, usually after forking over a lump of hard-earned dough, and after one or two viewings of a string of badly edited, often poor-quality KOs presented without any context, they gather dust somewhere on a back shelf until the inevitable yard sale. Bo-ring.
PRIDE FC - HARDCORE KNOCKOUTS VOL. I is a pleasant exception to this rule. It is a slickly packaged, well-produced and reasonably well commentated 110 minutes of some of the nastiest KOs to occur in the legendary PRIDE ring. Fans of MMA and of PRIDE fighting in particular will not be disappointed in what I hope is the first of a several-volume series.
The DVD is hosted by current IFL representative and former MMA legend Bas Rutten, and PRIDE's ringside commentator, Mauro Renallo. Rutten is maybe a bit too caffinated to give his best performance here, but nobody at the Kraft Services table was gonna tell "El Guapo" he couldn't have that sixth cappucino. Renallo, with his Brent Mussberger voice and Jim Lampley diction, is slightly annoying as always, but otherwise does his job of lobbing semi-rhetorical questions at Bas with skill and aplomb.
Now for the good stuff. HARDCORE KNOCKOUTS is a densely-layered highlight reel combining random one-punch KOs, the career-best KOs of various marquee fighters, and several important PRIDE fights in their entirety.
The disc starts with a series of brutal knockouts from various PRIDE cards, including some stunners by Ken Shamrock, Gary "Big Daddy" Goodridge and Gilbert Yvel. It segues into the best performances of Fedor Emilianenko, Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, Quinten "Rampage" Jackson, Chuck "the Iceman" Liddell and Igor Vovchanchyn. There are some vicious, vicious beatings here, especially by Cro Cop, Volvchanchyn and Silva. One of the most spectacular, however, is Rampage's "slam knockout" of Ricardo Arona. Holy @#%!
Fights shown in entirety are Wanderei Silva vs. Kazushi "the Gracie Hunter" Sakuraba, Mirko Cro Cop vs. Kevin "the Monster" Randelman, and Chuck Liddell vs. Rampage Jackson. Fans of Liddell will not enjoy this last one, it is a well-and-true butt-kicking, probably thrown in to draw interest in the upcoming rematch.
Some flaws: 1) Alexander Emilianenko, the tattoed kid brother of Fedor, is seen here only getting brutally KO'd by Cro Cop. This man has several spectacular KOs to his credit, but none are pictured here. 2) The commentators, despite aknowledging that PRIDE has been bought by the UFC, can't help taunting Chuck Liddell about losing to Rampage in PRIDE, drawing the conclusion that UFC fighters can't quite cut the mustard in the PRIDE ring. I realize this was just chest-thumping for the org that pays their wages, and I realize that Cro Cop hasn't fared so well since going UFC, but hey -- this is Chuck we're talking about. It ain't wise to upset a Wookie. 3) Several of Fedor Emilianenko's "best KOs" are actually not KOs, they are fights he won by decision -- in other words, they are highlights, not knockouts. 4) No Don Frye (except as a victim).
Having made that qualification (and keeping in mind there should be other volumes coming) I would definitely recommend this disc to anyone who enjoys MMA and wants to see some true beatdowns delivered by, and sometimes to, the greatest fighters in the PRIDE ring.