Young Brandon (Rudy Youngblood) is a street brawler. As this movie ‘Beatdown’ opens Brandon doesn’t look like he’s a very good street brawler considering he is using the Homer Simpson technique of allowing your opponent to beat the snot out of you until he gets tired. Eventually Brandon will win this fight with his older brother / manager shouting sage advice such as ‘put him to sleep son!’ After the fight Brandon is a little disappointed that there isn’t more money in the till but his brother advises him more is forthcoming, followed by him telling baby bro that he has to make a stop which is then followed up with the man declaring undying love for his little brother. Brandon could’ve saved us about five minutes if he had just shot his brother dead right there because I think we all know, from that moment on, my man’s fate is sealed.
Turns out big bro was in deep to some crazy wild eyed mobster dude and this dude has arbitrarily passed this debt on to the surviving brother. Brandon solves this dilemma by getting the hell out of town and holing up with his estranged father (Danny Trejo) who lives somewhere in East Podunk and gets him a plum gig moving wood pallets from point A to point B.
What Brandon really wants to do is fight again and when his goofy friend alerts him that Podunk has a vibrant fighting community, he is down for the cause. But first he has to meet a pretty girl in Erin (Susie Abromeit) who’s crazy Ultimate Fighting Brother Victor (Eric Balfour) doesn’t like his sister looking at other dudes. That’s weird of course, and a little uncomfortable, but we will roll with it.
Just so you know ‘Beatdown’ doesn’t possess the most focused narrative around as it jumps to Brandon making the acquaintance of Ultimate Fighting Witness Protection legend (don’t ask) Drake (Michael Bisping) who is going to get Brandon some big money fights if Brandon can scrape up the cash. Why Brandon needed this guy around is beyond me but there he is and he isn’t going anywhere.
Eventually Brandon has to fight his insane future brother-in-law for all the marbles or something. Eventually Brandon has to confront the wild eyed crazy mobster who had nothing to do with his brother’s death and just wants his money and apparently wasn’t even thinking about Brandon when he suddenly shows up back in town with a proposal. And now a movie that simply lacks focus has now officially become retarded.
Tapout industries pushes out these product placement laden titty infested movies at a relentless rate and I watch them, though they were pretty light on the titty factor this time around. We were pretty hard on the first series of these films all produced by Hector Echavarria but the last Tapout joint we saw before this one, ‘Circle of Pain’ had us longing for Hector’s return and this one solidifies that stance. We need you back Hector, we need you back. You see this movie here excises the gratuitous nudity and replaces it with melodrama. While we certainly don’t encourage the exploitation of women here at the FCU but as our eyes were glazing over listening to these characters ineffectively and incessantly whine about their crap lives, we came to the sad conclusion that gratuitous nudity, in some instances, does make for better exposition.
Worst still, for a movie called ‘Beatdown’, the beat down’s were few and far between. This could’ve been because our two main fighters, Rudy Youngblood and Eric Balfour, are actors and the less they actually had to fight the better. These movies are still struggling to find that happy medium between using actors who can’t fight or fighters who can’t act with this one choosing actors that can’t fight but look like they might be able to fight given the right camera angles. Not quite there yet.
In addition to a narrative which was going every which-a-way and an ending that came out of nowhere, one of the more amusing things in ‘Beatdown’ was the odd editing decisions going on in the background. Having edited an item or two back in the day it is always a strong temptation to employ using all those fancy transitions and effects they give you. But you should resist. The theory here seemed to be why use a simple dissolve when you can use a zoom cut, slow mo speed up super staccato cut? Resist. At least the editor didn’t use a star wipe.
Considering these Tapout movies generally follow the same basic storyline and assuming this approach isn’t changing anytime soon, I think they need to stick with the Hector Echavarria model. Minimal dialog, fighters who can’t act and when in doubt about what to do next… insert nudity. This may not be a platinum recipe for success but it will generate better output than what we got with ‘Beatdown’.