This martial arts movie is a rare piece of cinema waited for release by a lot of fans and not just because it is a sequel to Never Back Down Hollywood action of 2008 with teen stars Sean Faris and Cam Gigandet, but because of real deal Michael Jai White and other MMA fighters.
First movie grossed $24,850,922 with a budget of $20,000,000, The Beatdown has a budget of $3,000,000 and went straight to DVD on September 13, 2011, but let’s wait for how much fans will vote for this flick with their money.
On my opinion this is a surprisingly high quality martial arts movie that much betters the original while maintaining the same sense of energy and realism. Michael Jai White with his directorial debut gave fans exactly what they have come to expect.
The first movie was about a rebellious teen Jake Tyler who lured into an ultimate underground fighting club in a Backyard Fight, where he finds a mentor in a mixed martial arts veteran played by an ex-fashion model and Oscar-nominating actor Djimon Hounsou. This time a story focuses on the lives of four different fighters from various backgrounds that overcome personal problems en route to an underground MMA tournament known simply as The Beatdown. Their mentor now is owner of black belts in 7 styles of martial arts and 26 titles in different championships Michael Jai White. But if you think these 4 guys came to him out of nowhere like never happened United States Air Force soldier and #38 of magazine Elle Girl’s 50 Sexiest Guys Sean Faris you are wrong.
Note: Sean Faris gained 15 lbs. of muscle and trained 7 hours a day, 6 days a week under Justin A. Williams and Daniel Hernandez during training for Never Back Down in 2008.
Justin played by undefeated MMA fighter and actor Scottie Epstein (http://www.scottepstein.net). This character will become one of my favorites bad villains in the movies. Scottie showed the perfect performance of a comic store clerk turned into agressive and skilled fighter.
Mike, the college freshman recently kicked off the wrestling squad, played by Australian made actor Dean Geyer. Geyer’s family have a strong connection to martial arts, with members from previous and current generations gaining black-belts in karate. Following in family tradition, Dean also attained his black-belt several years prior to his “Australian Idol” (2003) debut. Dean’s father, Keith Geyer, and late uncle, Derrick Geyer, appeared in the South African martial arts film Kill or be Killed (1980). Dean’s father was his martial arts teacher.
Tim, oversized hardworking lug, played by Todd Duffee. His learning experience about the MMA was enhanced with viewings of old Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fights he rented. Not long after this, Todd began training at a MMA gym. Upon entering the MMA circuit, Todd found success against several fighters and earned a notable triumph over UFC and PRIDE FC veteran fighter Assuiero Silva with a knockout victory during their second round together. In 2010 Todd was released from the UFC. Afterwards, he began fighting in other, smaller fighting leagues. Outside of the fighting spectrum, Todd Duffee trains at the Colorado-based facility Grudge Training Center. He also has his own fan page and made his first acting debut in Never Back Down 2.
Zack, a former boxer forced into early retirement because of a detached retina suffered in a severe beating, played by Alex Meraz who has studied mixed martial arts, winning numerous tournaments in karate and the martial art of Capoeira. Alex’s first big film was The New World as one of the Powhatan core warriors and that was when he got the acting bug. His big break came when he was cast as werewolf Paul in the film New Moon.
Michael Jai White has been an underrated performer his entire career. A man able to deliver Shakespearian rhetoric while blessed and cursed with the physique of an Adonis that pigeonholed him to a career in action films. This is one of the big Hollywood mistakes of our times, it gave a chance to Van Damme and Steven Seagal to shine, but not to such guys, who is definitely much better that a lot of screen fighters. Michael has the charisma, the body, the acting and now directing skills too, he definitely deserves a break.
As a director, White got a help from a popular fight choreographer Larnell Stovall, who’s best known for his work on the stunning Undisputed 3 with Scott Adkins. Between them the two manage to make the films fights really pop, especially during the final act and The Beatdown itself. Stovall did the impossible moves, a couple of which will have you shouting woah!
Only one hole in the whole scenarios is Michael’s character past, hope to see more about him in the Never Back Down 3 very soon.
The original was choreographed by Damon Caro (S.W.A.T., 300, Bourne Identity, Martial Law TV series, Die Hard 4) and Jonathan Eusebio (Blade 2, Streetfighter, Ninja Assassin, Iron Man 2, Expendables). The Beatdown was bring to us by Larnell Stovall and Michael Jai White, the guys who are really hooked on martial arts quality and the best pick for any nowaday martial arts flick.
Almost forgot about only one link with the original, it is Evan Peters who played wanna-be Dana White, the promoter of The Beatdown tournament.
Never Back Down 2 is shot well and edited in a style in which the audience can recognize the techniques being preformed. I enjoyed this movie far more than I imagined, perfect gift to all fans.
One question only – Is Michael deserve to make more big-budget martial arts movies on your opinion?