I should preface the upcoming criticism by mentioning that I am a BIG fan of Michael Jai White and that one's first time tackling a new task often results in a hose with a few kinks. The recognition of potential is what's important and I hope he continues not only directing films, but films like this!
White makes his directorial debut in the form of a direct-to-video sequel to the 2008 hit. He also plays Case, a former MMA champ who's on probation and spends his time training young college students for The Beatdown: a 16-man elimination cage-tournament where the winner brings home 10K. His prospects include Tim (Todd Duffee), a student trying to help his financially-struggling mother; Zack (Alex Meraz, "The Twilight Saga"), an injured ex-boxer risking blindness; Justin (Scottie Epstein), a bullied comic-book aficionado; and Mike (Dean Guyer), a collegiate wrestler with a short fuse who's trying to come to terms with his estranged father. Linking it all together is Max (Evan Peters), the sole leftover from the first film, this time funding The Beatdown and holding it in Louisiana.
Unfortunately, the movie is marred by poor pacing and generally unlikable characters, except for Tim (who could be Dolph Lundgren's long-lost son), Case, Justin and Max. Though not the fault of the capable actors, Mike & Zach kinda come off as one-dimensional tools. Until the last 15 minutes anyway. I had no real expectations for this film until I read that White was directing, the fights were being choreographed by Larnell Stovall (who exceeded my high expectations with "Undisputed 3"), and a couple of reviews that boasted that this film "... beats the original in every way". Eh, not quite EVERY way. While I was not a fan of the first film, the acting and pacing was better and the antagonist was more interesting. In fact, a clear antagonist doesn't really emerge here until the last act of the film (where most of the action takes place), which could be an asset, depending on your point of view. Few people ever encounter larger obstacles than that of the self.
OK then, what was better? Well, the fights/training scenes are MUCH better! I said "Larnell Stovall", didn't I? ANY fight in 2 is better than ANY fight in the first film! It would be very difficult to film better cage-fights than Stovall and White produce here. Yeah, they're a little more fancy than authentic MMA but this is a movie and a single coat of gloss is not only inevitable but preferred. And without the shaky, over-edited photography of the first film! No visible stunt-doubles either and some of the fellas have some good moves, especially Alex Meraz. The fights don't come off quite as effective as "Undisputed 3" but perhaps that's because I wasn't nearly as engaged in the plight of the characters here. Not every movie can have Uri Boyka!
The Sony/Stage 6/Mandalay DVD has good, widescreen picture quality with a couple of special features: commentary with White, Duffee, and Epstein and two deleted scenes. Languages available in English, French, Spanish, Portugese, and Thai. Subtitles in all aforementioned languages plus Korean and Chinese, too! On a whole, I did enjoy it, and for fans of DTV kick-flicks and MMA, it is recommended.