When an enterprising college student (Evan Peters, the only link to the first Never Back Down
) organizes an underground, pay-per-view fighting tournament, he needs a key ingredient: competitors. And so gathers the buff, seemingly steroid-friendly crew of Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown
, a collection of muscled misfits with something to prove. There's Mike (Dean Geyer), who's angry about his father leaving the family for another dude; ladies' man Zack (Alex Meraz); screw-loose psycho Justin (Scottie Epstein); and hulking Tim (Todd Duffee), whose mother is forced to wait tables at a strip club to make ends meet. They all train under the Buddha-like gaze of Case (Michael Jai White), an ex-con with a free-floating gym for Mixed Martial Arts instruction. You can almost hear the heavy-metal training montages screaming into view, and sure enough, The Beatdown
leans heavily on such staples of the genre. The storytelling may be one cliché after another, but give White (he also directed) some credit: at least the movie has some energy, and a few funny moments scattered along the way. And, of course, when the beatdown arrives, there's no stinting on the bone-crunching cage fighting. Pretty enjoyable if your tastes run to such things, The Beatdown
is actually something of an improvement over the first Never Back Down
--a minor surprise in the straight-to-DVD world. --Robert Horton
Behind closed doors of a seemingly normal college, the ultimate showdown in underground MMA fighting is being planned. Ex-MMA rising star Case Walker (Michael Jai White) trains four college-age fighters, each with their own individual obstacles. Case will instruct them to master the most mind-blowing fighting techniques and go head to head in the most punishing competition ever devised - The Beatdown. Featuring UFC Champion Lyoto Machida, MMA fighter Scottie Epstein and UFC fighter Todd Duffee.