Beatdown (UK - DVD R2)
Our Marcus avoids the punches and kicks through this low budget fighter...
After the murder of his older brother Brandon Becker (Rudy Youngblood) finds out he owes his brother's large debts to a local crime boss. Fleeing town and moving in with his dad (Danny Trejo), Brandon finds himself getting involved in the local cage fighting scene, and when he teams up with fighting legend Drake (Michael Bisping) Brandon finds a way to make money with his fighting skills.
Beatdown comes into the ring pretty confidently, with a good looking bit of digital filmmaking, but it’s loaded with off putting distractions. For starters I didn’t realise the young Vin Diesel lookalike in the lead was in fact Rudy Youngblood, so once I’d worked out he was the guy from Apocalypto my mind settled on the actual flick and the other distraction of the shoddy filmmaking took over.
Despite the okay acting (other than by Bising—more on that later) which would probably make the movie feel of a higher budget than it obvious is, the director Mike Gunther (a pretty seasoned stuntman judging by IMDB) throws some of the worst fades, quick cutting super-fast zooms and anything else that bad editing can do to annoy a viewer at us at a lighting pace. Honestly it destroys most of the drama that Beatdown is trying to set up pretty early and if it wasn’t for Youngblood’s obvious movie star presence this movie would have lost me very early on.
This continues into the fights and as I’m not a cage fighting fan even the joy of seeing the sport in a movie was lost on me, so imagine my indifference when real UFC Fighter Michael Bisping turned up and started trying to act. Honestly “ouch” isn’t the word for it. His delivery of dialogue in his British accent is cringe-worthy and his “look hard and walk towards the camera” moments were pretty chucklesome.
It would be pretty easy to keep taking cheap shots at this low budget fighter but really it’s not doing all that much wrong beyond trying to emulate the low budget classic eighties action flicks. Youngblood makes for a good lead and if the fight scenes didn’t look so staged (and badly edited) this could be the beginning of a new career avenue for him. The simplistic approach to how Brandon and Drake come together and form a plan is too forced to feel anything less than a shoehorned in reason to get Bisping his first movie roll but it is sort of funny/cringy to watch and Trejo is any movie in any capacity is a good watch, and it was made even better that he plays a guy called Marcus and kept saying my name in the coolest way possible on the extras. It’s a selfish reason to sort of like the flick but I don't care, Danny Trejo just made my name sound infinitely cool and it's the best I can muster for with this pretty low-fi fighting flick.
Being digitally shot, Beatdown comes with a good clean, colourful transfer. It has a nice glow to it and there’s the odd spot of sharp detail that almost makes it look like an HD transfer. That said, there is a distinct softness to the image and with the movie's low budget, it is a little stark and more so bland to look at in places, but there’s some nice deep blacks to make the movie look a little more movie-ish. So Beatdown winds up looking a little better than your average indie but not quite Van Damme/Segal levels—even their recent stuff.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is pretty laughable. Barely anything escapes the front speakers, even the rockier/hip hop tracks struggle to reach out to the rears. The punches have a nice, well, punch in the centre speakers but they can sometimes feel a little disjointed from the whole mix due to their amped up volume. Dialogue is good and clear and the mix feels balanced for its limitations but don't expect anything in the way of ambience outside of the odd layered crowd scene.
‘Behind The Scenes With Interviews' (07:12) does exactly what it says in the title, and keeping it to the point 'Choreographing the Beatdowns’ (03:31) is footage covering the fight sets ups.
‘6 Days on the Set with Michael Bisping’ (07:13) is a fast paced video blog from the cage fighter as he embarks on his first movie and rounding up there's a short thank you video in ‘Beatdown Competition Winner’ (00:56) from a guy who won a role in the movie and the trailer (01:59)
Beatdown held its own in a retro sort of way. It wasn’t unlike watching an early Van Damme movie but with half the budget and while its characters were cookie cutter variations of the genre I still sort of warmed to Brandon and his dad (but of course this is probably more due to the actors playing them).
The disc again is just okay. Okay A/V, okay features and really you wouldn’t expect much more from a direct to video movie with a title like Beatdown would you?
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 14th March 2011
Disc Type: Dual side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Stereo 2,0 English
Extras: Featurettes, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Mike Gunther
Cast: Rudy Youngblood, Eric Balfour, Michael Bisping, Danny Trejo
Genre: Action, Drama and Sport
Length: 86 minutes
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