The Movie: 4/10
Never Back Down 2: the Beatdown is a direct to vdeo release about mixed martial arts, and this one is the follow up to Never Back down, which was released in 2008, and which was solidly directed and had decent acting and a polished look. The follow up is nothing like the original, and that is a bad thing.
Directed by Michael Jai White, who was the main actor in the hysterical Black Dynamite, Never Back Down 2 is a shell of the original. Even White’s performance as a washed up MMA trainer Case is uninspired in parts. The movie focuses again on a few mixed martial arts students who are preparing for a new tournament, called the beatdown, and put together by Max Cooperman (Evan Peters) from the original movie.
Case has a particularly checkered past, and he is trying to do everything he can to stay out of trouble. In this type of movie, that will not happen. The fighters are all dealing with their own issues, and are trying to jockey and prepare for the final competition, which is a big one.
While the sequel mirrors the original in many ways, the fact that it just feels like a copy really hurts its overall appeal. We have seen this before, and with better actors. The result is a movie with too much acting when its actors are mainly just fighters. Less acting and more action might have been the right combination here.
- Commentary With Michael Jai White, Todd Duffee & Scottie Epstein – The commentary here is sparse and has a whole lot of dead silence. There is little in terms of details about the movie, and while it is somehwat entertaining, it is a sub-par commentary.
- Deleted Scenes – There are only two scenes included on the disc, and they are not memorable.
Cover Art and Menus: 3/10
To me the cover for this movie looks just like a cover for a mixed martial arts competition. It makes sense, but there is not a lot going on here. The movie is about fighting, and so is the cover. The cover is kind of reminscient of old Jean Claude Van Damme movies. The menu is a static shot of the same guys in a different, albeit still angles, pose. There is not even any background music playing during the menu.
Audio & Video: 5/10
I reviewed the standard DVD of Never Back Down 2, and while the widescreen presentation was adequate, it really lacks the feel of a top rated action movie. Colors and details are decent, but the overall effect is pretty standard and lackluster. It seems that they did not light the movie correctly in spots, which gives this a low budget feel. The audio is the same way, with a lot of Surround sound usage that seems to be over the top for no real reason. The dialogue in spots seemed to be mixed too low also. And I feel that I have to mention the music, which is pretty bad overall. It is knd of what you would expect for a low budget martial arts movie, but I had to mention it. It is bad.
This straight to DVD release is fun as long as you are into MMA fighting. The story is nothing new, and the overall result is a ho-hum martial arts movie with sub par character development and lackluster acting.
Overall Score 3/10