Michael Jai White’s Never Back Down 2
Behind closed doors of a normal, suburban college, ‘The Beatdown’, the ultimate showdown in underground Mixed Martial Arts is being planned. Former MMA prospect and ex-convict Case Walker (Michael Jai White) trains four college fighters, each with their own individual obstacles and reasons for taking part. Case will instruct them to master the most technical and dynamic fighting techniques in order for them to jump into the most punishing competition ever devised.
More of a loose spin-off than a sequel of the original, Never Back Down 2 serves up the same teen drama / fight tournament formula - albeit with some new ingredients more appealing to hardcore Martial Arts fanatics. Despite the emphasis of the drama and struggles of the four main fighters (all of whom are stereotyped like mad), MMA fans are treated to some technically proficient and stylish fight action with varied styles on display, reflective of each of the fighter's main disciplines. Courtesy of fight choreographer, Larnell Stovall (Undisputed III, Mortal Kombat: Legacy), the action is beautifully shot, clean and utilises nice movements, fluidity and genuine ability of the stars - all of whom deliver on the action front. The fight scenes are, by far, where the film reaches its element and in this regard there's certainly a lot to enjoy. A scene in which a handcuffed MJW takes apart a group of racist cops is one of the most memorable and shows that despite his largely drama-focused supporting role here, he still physically portrays and emits all the action qualities we've come to know him for. On NBD2, he does a very good job for his directorial debut and while this title may not be much of a stretch for someone of his talents, the whole package is handled well and bodes very positively for his future projects as a filmmaker. In all, NBD2 does exactly what it says on the tin so if you're a genre fan or MMA addict, there's a lot to enjoy here.