Lionsgate // 2010 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 18th, 2010
To fight another day...you must survive.
Tapout continues its blitzkrieg into the direct-to-disc action movie market with its latest testosterone-y outing that is boring.
It's tough being a mediocre street-fighter with a moron brother who racks up huge debts to the mob. But that's the situation facing Brandon (Rudy Youngblood, Apocalypto). Just as he begins making a name for himself as a fighter, his brother gets himself killed and leaves behind a mammoth IOU to the local big-shot scumbag. Brandon runs and shacks up with his wheelchair-bound dad (Danny Trejo) in a small, jerkwater rural town -- which, of course, happens to have an illegal underground fighting circuit (with corporate sponsorships, natch).
And with that, Brandon gets to do what he does best, absorbing punishing body blows and bleeding.
I'll say it again: there is no one working the DVD market harder than the folks at Tapout. These guys are averaging one new release an hour it seems. On the surface their frequency of production is impressive. But after you've seen a few of these films, as I have, the truth comes into focus: it's pretty easy to push out DVDs when your plots, characters and fight choreography are essentially the same.
Granted, there are wrinkles in this formula, but not many. As in previous releases, you've got a spunky underdog, who's fighting for something very important to him, seeking help from a weatherbeaten MMA veteran, embarking on a training montage then smacking around the main dickhead at the end, all set to hard rock and shot with annoying camera angles.
While I respect MMA as a sport, I just can't get on board with it as a viably exciting element in an action film. The hulking brutes in Beatdown smack each other around plenty and get a choke-out here or there, but it's just not fun to watch. Director Mike Gunther doesn't help matters by shooting the bouts with the restraint of a music video. He uses lots of quick edits and tight zooms and fancy color effects and it becomes migraine-inducing to track the action on screen. More annoyingly, Gunther translates this hyperactive camera trickery to non-fighting sequences. Do we need all this crap during dialogue scenes?
Of course, the alternative is being forced to watch Rudy Youngblood emote. The guy brought the thunder in Apocalypto, but when he's asked to weep about the passing of his brother, watch out; yogurt express emotion more believably than him. And really, it's not like his character is interesting anyway. He fights a lot, runs away from his problems, fights some more, fights his main competition- a guy who happens to be the brother of the girl he's banging- and then, well, the movie sort of just ends with a fizzle.
On the other hand, like every one of these Tapout endeavors, you have random breasts, so there's that.
The Blu-ray is a high-end 1.78:1 treatment brings a clean, hyper-stylized look that matches the eye-punching excess of the cinematography and is joined by an aggressive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix, pumping out the generic rock and kicking sound effects about as well as you could hope for. Extras include commentary with Gunther, Youngblood, actor Susie Abromeit and Editor Dave Macomber; a behind-the-scenes documentary; a video diary with actor Michael Bisping and featurettes on the fight choreography and some (un)lucky goofball who won a role in the film.
The fighting is a pain to watch and not that entertaining once you figure out what's going on; the plot is tired, the characters are molecule-thin, and I jammed my finger opening the disc case. Beatdown stinks.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R