Max is back and this time he is a college MMA impresario. Doubling as an R.A. at his dormitory does not hurt his housing costs and it keeps his reputation publicly pure. Max is in the process of duplicating the original Beatdown tournament by organizing a second underground event. Max needs fighters in order to have any chance of selling out a fight venue. He cajoles two teenagers to join his cause, Mike Stokes (Dean Geyer) and Zack Gomez (Alex Meraz). Mike and Alex are both pursuing the same woman and simultaneously dealing with chilling personal issues. Injuries are a serious concern as is hyper-sensitivity to criticism. Both are fighters, one is a wrestler and the other is a boxer. However, neither one has any MMA skills, Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or karate training to speak of. Max does the most logical thing he knows how to do and sends them to a burned-out expert trainer, Case (Michael Jai White). Case performed well in Strikeforce but ran into legal troubles prohibiting his continuation.
Case already has a student on demand that is enormous and has the distinction of looking like a 20 year old Dolph Lundgren. Frankie (Galen Bryant Banks) is about 6’5” and has muscles in places where most people do not have places. Together, along with a comic book store clerk/toolbox, they are trained by Case for nearly sixty days. How people with no martial arts background can possibly advance to being experts in 60 days is beyond any normal fan of the sport, but this is a film and not real life, thank god.
Never Back Down 2: The Letdown, I mean the Beatdown, has all of the ingredients necessary to be successful. There are buff fighters aplenty, there is a fair amount of MMA training, and one sex scene is included for good measure. Many of the characters have compelling stories, but there is one overarching element that brings down the house and causes this picture to be an ugly follow-up to the first NBD film. Not one moment of the action is cogent. I remain unconvinced that any of these kids can fight worth their weight in salt. Frankly, this is the Bush league and I prefer the pros. I would gladly watch the first NBD repeatedly, but even if tied and gagged I would find a means for avoiding the second. That a waste of a sequel. Two grapplers down.
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