Michael Jai White makes directorial debut in Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown (2011)
Muscle clad martial artist and actor, Michael Jai White, makes his directorial debut and stars in this 2011 action sequel, Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, written by Chris Hauty who also penned the original film (Never Back Down).
Released in August on DVD by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the film also stars Alex Meraz, Todd Duffee, Scottie Epstein, Evan Peters and Jillian Murray with guest appearance from Lyoto Machida and Eddie Bravo as DJ Bravo.
Evan Peters is the only one who reprises his role as the camera totting teen, Max Cooperman, who organizes a cage fight to stream live on the internet.
This time his in college and dreams of bigger things than posting fight videos on Youtube.
Advertising it as The Beatdown; an underground cage tournament, he directs potential fighters; boxer Zack Gomez (Alex Meraz) and wrestler Mike Stokes (Dean Geyer) to Case Walker (Michael Jai White), a mixed martial art phenomenon who suddenly disappeared from the arena.
The film touches base with a lot of social issues like racism and homosexuality. Case’s family all perished during Katrina which leaves him a broken man.
On top of that he is constantly bullied by a racist local cop and leads to an exciting encounter at the end. On the other hand Mike Stokes is running away from his family especially his father.
Stokes dislikes his father who leaves the family for another man. His father’s sexual orientation becomes fuel for remarks and social jeers which leads to an altercation that forces him away from wrestling.
This father leaving theme is the same as the first film. However, there are different reasons for their departure.
Compared to the first film, this one definitely has a lot more going.
The fight scenes are excellent and the story has more depth, although I did find the boxer character a bit superficial. The highlight for me was seeing Machida’s guest appearance in which he performs kata with Jai White.
As Michael Jai White’s directorial debut, I must say it’s not bad. He takes into account the fighting and also factors in a good deal of emotion and there’s a flow to the story.
He also keeps the audience interested especially with wanting to know more about the Case character (which he plays himself).
Kudos and I look forward to seeing more from him.