Thursday, September 15, 2011

Is Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown Badass?

When I first read that there was to be a sequel to Never Back Down, I immediately thought it was going to be a cheap fight film that catered to a teen audience. Then, it was announced that Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite, Undisputed II) was going to star in and direct it. My expectations rose, but just slightly to thinking that the sequel would be a decent direct-to-dvd, popcorn flick. Having just watched Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, I am now wondering why it wasn't released theatrically because it is better than the original.

The story follows four college students and how they come together under the tutelege of a former MMA champion in order to compete in the Beatdown tournament. Normally in a movie such as this, you'd think that these characters would all have a stock character trait such as "I'm poor and want to fight for the money." Suprisingly each has multiple, complicated motivations. Comparisons will be made to The Karate Kid as the movie does follow the same formula, however The Beatdown stands as one of the best pure fight movies in some time. Almost all the actors are martial artists as well, and the camera actually stays on them during the action to show exactly what is being done. When most action films today rely on the "shaky cam" school of fight choreography, it is refreshing to actually see an entire fight play out on screen.

Will Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown win any awards? Probably not, but it is a triumph for first time director Michael Jai White, full of well done action and surpassing the original. It is also completely Badass.