Undisputed revolves around George "Iceman" Chambers (Ving Rhames), a character obviously modeled after Mike Tyson. The heavyweight boxing champion is sent to Sweetwater Prison after being convicted of rape. There, his reputation throws him into the world of prison boxing, where a bout is arranged between him and Monroe Hutchen (Wesley Snipes), Sweetwater’s "every weight" boxing champion.
The film would spawn several sequels, although none of the original actors return. By the time of the third film, none of the original characters return either, with the films going in a different direction inspired by the second film.
This film has the examples of:
- Badass Boast: When asked if he's the prison heavyweight champion, Monroe says he's the champion of "every weight or any other kind they got".
- Bittersweet Ending: Monroe beats the heavyweight champion in Iceman, but is still stuck in prison for life, while Iceman conveniently has his sentence overturned thanks to mob boss Mendy. Iceman’s camp uses the lack of any evidence outside the word of a few bookies to call the whole fight a hoax, ensuring that Monroe’s accomplishment will be lost to boxing history. Mendy, who organized the whole affair, dies soon after the fight occurred, but leaves his prison assistant Chuy with the fortune they earned betting, which will make Chuy a millionaire once he leaves Sweetwater. Monroe for his part seems satisfied with his win on a personal level, rather than being bitter about a lack of recognition or his sentence.
- Boss Subtitles: Every major character gets one, which shows their name and the crime(s) that got them in.
- Con Man: Marvin, who does the commentary during the boxing matches.
- Driven by Envy: A downplayed trope, but unusually, it's the protagonist who shows this. Several lines imply Monroe is bitter about his prison sentence and Iceman’s presence reminds him of what he could have accomplished in the world of boxing. By the end of the film, he's shown to be over it.
- Honor Before Reason: The prisoners propose to Monroe to drug Iceman’s water to give Monroe an advantage. Monroe tells them in no uncertain terms if they do they will have problems, as he wants to beat Iceman fairly.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: A rare instance of this trope being played for drama and not comedy. While the warden is willing to let the fight between Monroe and Iceman go forward (thanks to a rather thinly veiled threat from Mendy), he demands there be no video evidence of the fight and that no one at the prison will discuss it after it happens. This works to Iceman's advantage, as the lack of any evidence besides the word of the prisoners and a few bookies lets Iceman’s camp call the fight a hoax.
- Luxury Prison Suite: Mendy's cell. In addition to being significantly larger than the other cells on the ground floor (so Mendy doesn't need to climb stairs) he also has a TV and a big collection of old boxing tapes to watch as he pleases. It’s also mentioned he's afforded a relaxed dress code and food privileges other prisoners usually need to earn with good behavior.
- The Mafia: Mendy is an old mafia member, and they pull the strings in the background to his whims.
- Odd Friendship:
- Chambers immediately and intentionally rubs most of the prisoners the wrong way but develops a genuine rapport with his cellmate Mingo. Mingo even corners Chambers during the fight with Monroe.
- While Mendy tends to treat his prison assistant Chuy fairly indifferently (with the mob occasionally checking in to ensure he's doing his job), a few scenes show the two have a friendship outside of his duties for the mob. After Mendy dies, he leaves the fortune he won betting on the fight to Chuy as a thank-you gift, a total of two million dollars.
- Otaku: Mendy has been a big boxing fan through his whole life.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Chambers is in jail for rape although he vehemently denies it (saying he's "no punk-ass rapist" in an interview). Just to remind you who you should be rooting for, an interview with Chambers’ alleged victim is played before the fight, with her tearfully recounting how powerless she felt during the incident.
- Shower Scene: Monroe's second encounter with Iceman is in the shower, where he once again tries to insult him.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Played with. Monroe defeats Iceman but is still stuck in prison for life. When Iceman gets paroled, his condition for fighting Monroe, the lack of any video allows his camp to call the entire fight a hoax, and he soon regains his heavyweight title. However, Monroe and the prisoners know the truth, and the last shot of Monroe smiling as he builds a toothpick model (not bothering to watch Iceman's PPV fight like the other prisoners) implies he's content with knowing he beat Iceman, even if the rest of the world doesn't.
- Shame If Something Happened: Mendy, after the warden calls off the fight between Monroe and Iceman due to growing prison unrest, has a meeting with the warden about "how things get done". He goes on to tell a story about how a mayor who opposed a mafia-ran casino was given the choice to take a bribe or face death, but either way the casino would remain open. After noting the mayor died in a car bomb, Mendy wishes the warden his best on his upcoming vacation. Naturally the fight is back on soon after.
- The Stoic: Monroe. He's in prison for the only time he lost his cool, that being finding his wife in bed with another man and killing the guy.
- Those Wacky Nazis: A couple of neo-nazis get their asses kicked. Monroe's first opponent is one, establishing him as the protagonist for the audience.
- What Are You in For?: It is considred rude to ask this among the prisoners. Not long after learning this, Iceman hurls this question at Monroe's manager Ratbag to show his disrespect.