Ultimate Beastmaster Is An Ultimate Mess

Ultimate Beastmaster

If there’s one thing Sylvester Stallone has a grip on, it’s bravado. Or, really, the bravado has a grip on him that has not let go since his early career as an action star. And that shows on Ultimate Beastmaster, the first competition reality show to premiere on Netflix.

Created by Dave Broome and hosted and produced by Stallone, it forms a loose pseudo narrative of six countries presenting two competitors each episode in an attempt to conquer The Beast. In reality, it’s a Ninja Warrior-style competition that forces each competitor to run a series of increasingly difficult obstacle courses. The first level, for example, includes running up a simple 45-degree slope. Level two, though, requires them to swing across a chasm via a series of dangling and shaking chains.

And it’s a mess. It’s slow and painfully repetitive in ways that Ninja Warrior avoids with careful calibration and Total Wipeout skirts with not giving a fuck about almost killing everyone with bullshit shenanigans. Here, though, we see competitors engage in the same problems over and over again that indulge in an awful blend of physical strength of random luck.

The final part of the first level (yes, the hosts refer to them as levels and refuse to stop calling the entire show “like a video game”) is a rather straightforward rock climbing sequence called the Mag Wall, which means that at indeterminate points, holds will just…fall away. It seems like a simple matter of not using those holds, but it also introduces a lottery sensation you only get when there are boxing gloves punching you in the face. Here’s an indication of a bad obstacle: does everyone walk away with bleeding wounds? YUP.

None of these obstacles feel exceptionally interesting, too. That might be because they all fall under a terribly oppressive and overproduced metaphor representing anatomical parts of this so-called beast including a digestive tract and, I dunno, some bungee platforms? Spinal Ascent, a series of alternating and elevating platforms that sometimes move, is especially painful. There’s no technique to it. It’s just landing on your chest and finding some way to flop your dumb fleshy body over the lip.

The ones that don’t fit that metaphor actually work the best. The aforementioned bungee beds are physically demanding, mentally taxing, and viscerally exciting. It doesn’t require any abstraction from the viewer to think about how hard it is (how far apart are those poles really, is there grip on that spinning disc, etc.) because it just looks hard, and that’s because it is hard.

I will say, however, that the show fully embraces the worldwide phenomenon that is Sasuke-style competitions. From each country is not only a pair of competitors but also native-speaking hosts. It’s invigorating to see how drastically different cultures celebrate themselves and each other. At the end of each episode, in fact, all the hosts seem to join in on the final winner of the night in dancing, yelling, and generally enjoying the good vibes. It’s the one part that is wholly pleasant.

The hosts, however, continue to be the weakest part of these shows. Vapid, empty, worthless commentary accompanies every single action, but it’s also necessary since you’re otherwise watching a completely silent demonstration of Stallone machismo. Oh, did that guy make the jump? Oh, is her 5’2″ frame going to offer some trouble for this terribly biased obstacle? Tell me more.

No, wait, the other thing. Stop it. Like, the whole thing. Stop Ultimate Beastmaster.

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  • Ottervapor

    If this is how you feel after just one season of this show I would hate to hear how you feel about both footballs or baseball. Those games have had the same parameters for at least a hundred some odd years and MOST of the greatest plays in those games where made possible through luck. Actually this whole article just sounds like you hate sports all together. Every thing you complained about with ultimate beast master occurs in every sport played. So is it you just hate athletes and sport? Are you a bit chubby and angry maybe?

    • King POTUS

      Oooh, you totally got him with your amateur psychology.

  • Brock_Tune

    Yeah, have to agree, the show is a bore, the hosts are grating. I’ve caught the occasional episode of American Ninja Warrior, and usually have my interest held throughout, Here, whatever the actual physical challenges of the obstacles might be, they just aren’t interesting, and with how much is out there for these styles of shows that this series could have learned and improved from, having painfully boring obstacles is just inexcusable. And as much as I like Terry Crews, there’s only so much more the guy can contribute when he’s talking about the same challenge 20+ contestants in, and constantly having the hosts devolve into chanting their country’s names over each other is cringe worthy.

  • Jacob Cuevas

    I actually rather enjoyed the show. I think it’s strong point was having different nations, with host from those nations was a major strongpoint. It sort of felt like a small olympics for ninja warrior type courses. You even can witness the differences in culture which is quite fascinating.

    Sure the course was generally rather repetitive, since it was the same course, but to change too many things on an episodic base would cause an unfair advantage some individuals.

    Overall I think the show was a success and I’m hopeful for a season 2

  • CommonSense

    Congrats to Netflix for successfully creating a super cringey blow off of American Ninja Warrior!

    • CommonSense

      I actually take that back; it is a very well built course game, and I LOVE how they made it international!

  • Sean Williams

    “…not giving a fuck about almost killing everyone with bullshit shenanigans”, bravo

  • Mandy

    After seeing as many Ninja Warrior episode as i have. Watching this is painful. Failing a course and being allowed to continue…. points system to make it like a game show, and touching water is allowed even though at one point it was mentioned to not touch the water. What a mess. I could see Nagano try this and show how stupid it is. Even at his age he could possibly find this easy.

    • O Rock

      “I could see Nagano try this and show how stupid it is. Even at his age he could possibly find this easy.” I wouldn’t be so sure. Might I point out that Yuuji Urushihara took part in an episode and while he blasted through stage one, he failed quickly in stage two, made it into stage three by the skin of his teeth where he failed on the first obstacle.

  • David McDub

    it seemed like a semi-watchable show up until i watched them get pulled up the wall on the ‘final level’. completely losing their grip and just swinging back and forth until they catch their breath and fake pulling themselves up while their legs continue to dangle, as they continue to get high on the wall.
    ultimate beastmaster, how about ultimate jokemaster.