Whether you will like Never Back Down 2 (2011) or not would depend on what you are looking for in a film, particularly the action genre. It is a 103-minute motion picture in which the cast consists not of real actors, but martial arts fighters.
Let’s take some time and have a rundown on the background of the four actors playing the main characters, for the sake of those who do not yet know: Alex Meraz, who played the role of a playboy boxer named Zack, is a mixed martial artist who has won several Karate competitions. He also knows Capoiera. Todd Duffee on the other hand is a UFC fighter, who currently holds the record for the fastest knockout against Tim Hague. He played the character of Tim Newhouse, a good son to a mother who is struggling to earn money for the family.
Dean Geyer, who is most known as the 2006 Australian Idol 3rd placer, is also a black-belter in Karate. In this feature he took the role of Mike Stokes – a college student who hates his gay father for leaving them for another man. Lastly, Scottie Epstein who played a psycho comic book nerd named Justin is a professional mixed martial artist with a record of four wins and zero losses.
Given that, one would have an idea on how the acting in this flick goes. Yes, it has a lot of room for improvement. The only good acting we can get here comes from Michael Jai White (who by the way directed NBD2) and Evan Peters. Too bad that they are just supporting roles.
The next thing that one would notice while watching this movie is the dialogue. It is atrocious as the characters seem to be hot-headed all the time. The script was overkill with its intention to show that the characters are all macho. Even simple conversations turn into heated arguments with them where they fight over petty attempts at insulting each other. Consequently it made the movie shallow.
The plot was a bit flimsy. It is hard to follow during the first 11 minutes which is forgivable since they are trying to introduce and bring together four main characters. But the story as it goes just doesn’t make much sense, or lacks substance. Perhaps it is also be brought about by the lack of character development.
For one, Mike and Zack hated each other for who knows why. Then suddenly at the latter part of the movie they are friends. Mike’s motive for training with Case Walker (Michael Jai White) and joining the Beatdown is unclear. Or maybe they just forced a reason for that to happen. Justin’s character is also a blur. Is he really a psychopath or just a regular bad guy?
Moreover Jillian Murray’s character, Eve, was awkward. She was a girlfriend of Zack at first, but ended up with Mike after Zack broke up with her. True, it happens more in real life than most love stories we see in romantic movies but still, it is awkward. Her story with Mike does not do any good for the romantic side of the movie, but then its movie makers might want to focus more attention to masculinity.
To make the movie worse, (or better :p ) pointless nudity was added to the equation. Some might even be offended that women here are being objectified, although men also went topless. For roughly five minutes you can see Zack “making love” with a stripper. Thin story heaps of fighting and naked women- who is the target demograph? Is it what the audience bought this movie for? Most probably not.
People watched and will watch this movie for the action, which does not disappoint in this aspect. Given that the characters are real mixed martial artists in real life, realistic fights are in store for the audience. You can say that this is the only thing very satisfactory about the movie for the clear shots of MMA moves. Training session scenes are also great where you can see some intense work-out routines. And of course, Michael Jai White never fails in giving great fight scenes wherein he fights with policemen.
But as a 2011 movie, they could have levelled it up to a more brutally satisfying action. Showing more heart-stopping blows and realistic broken bones could have made up for all the thumbs down this film is receiving. Nevertheless, the action was good.
If we are going to compare this movie with its prequel through the perspective of an action feature or an MMA fan, it would probably get a higher score than the first movie. Again, the action here is more jam-packed which could leave the fans wanting for more of the sport. After watching this movie you would realize that the fight scene in Sean Farris’ movie was mediocre.
On the other hand, when we look at Never Back Down 2 from a regular audience’s point of view, this movie is most likely a failure as a sequel. Regular watchers won’t be focusing on the action but instead will look at all aspects of a movie.
The first Never Back Down was overflowing with cliché and thus very predictable, but it was entertaining to watch. The script was better, more bearable. The plot was simpler and more solid. The characters also had more solid individual stories, and the actors did better. Girls might also mention Sean Farris and Cam Gigandet.
Though they are both shallow for their stories, The Beatdown is disappointingly worse for the poor script writing and the below average acting of these MMA stars.
At the end of the day, movies will be judged by most people considering all the factors that make it up. Sadly this one failed in all except for the fight scenes. But honestly, we’ve seen action as good in other DTV films, but in the same breath it is by far superior than some of the other direct to DVD flicks out there. Never back down two is still worth watching but not quite worth adding to the collection…