Lionsgate // 2010 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 9th, 2010
He rules the streets from the inside.
Tapout continues its eye-popping saturation of the direct-to-disc action market, its latest a movie that doesn't have an original chemical bond in its subatomic structure.
The "he" in the tagline is Anton Vargas (Vinnie Jones, The Midnight Meat Train), a big-time gangster whose considerable power and influence hasn't been quelled because of his incarceration. In fact he's grown even more potent, running an empire of underground cage matches featuring convicts. The warden is helpless to do anything and the tough and sexy prison female guard (Bai Ling, The Crow) is more interested in a banging Vargas than cuffing him.
Enter Danny (Tony Schiena, Circle of Pain), a former cop who was set up for some reason that I can't quite recall and tossed into prison. He gets pressed into fight duty and positions himself to push back against the menace of Vargas.
I've been hard on these Tapout flicks, though I am genuinely impressed by their tenacity. These guys have something new out all the time, and no matter where you stand on their quality -- and I stand wherever the section for "bored and irritated" is cordoned off -- the quantity is at least something to be appreciated.
Unfortunately, "sticktuitiveness" isn't a category for our scoring. So we're stuck with the regulars: story, acting, video, audio. Let's break it down.
Nothing original here. Nothing. An underground fighting circuit? That takes place in a prison? Under the auspices of a ruthless gangster? Who has a fearsome champion under this thumb? Who is in turn challenged by a plucky hero? Who engages in a training montage under the tutelage of a wise old man? Genius!
Vinnie Jones is the more polished thespian of the crew and he's given the best lines to work with. The result is a passable, if forgettable, portrayal of a heavy. We're constantly told how powerful Vargas is, but all I see is a lot of glowering, the ability to shuttle prostitutes to the warden and more glowering. After Jones there's not much happening: Kimbo Slice is given second-billing but he's in the film for one fight and that's it; Bai Ling is unconvincing as a prison guard enforcer (what is she, like 70 pounds?) but when called upon, she will disrobe; Tony Schiena is stiff but an okay physical presence, though I don't blame his lack of excitement seeing he's the star and completely missing from the disc case credits.
The movie's a chore, but it's a fine-looking chore. The 1.78:1 1080p widescreen transfer is solid, pushing detail nicely despite the grungy setting of a prison. Action scenes tend to be frenetically edited, but the picture quality keeps track of things nicely.
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for the mix; it's an active track, transmitting the thuds and oofs well. The soundtrack is an annoying mishmash of rock and rap.
Nothing eye-popping: commentary from the director and Tony Schune, interviews with MMA fighters, a featurette on the fight choreography and a making-of documentary.
Locked Down is an uninspired, derivative action film that, by the way, features boring action scenes.
Your sentence has been extended another ten years.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R