Directed by: Daniel Zirilli
Starring: Vinnie Jones, Bai Ling, Tony Schiena, Sarah Ann Schultz, John B. Lowe, Dave Fennoy, Rashad Evans, Lance "The Snake" Cartwright, and Kimbo Slice
"I'm betting my life on it."
In Chicago's Blackwater state penitentiary (not to be confused with the covert ops organization), mob boss Anton Vargas (Jones), rules the roost. Everyone is on his payroll, including the warden and the guards. He runs Punchfighting matches in the basement of the prison. Meanwhile, undercover cop on the edge Det. Danny Bolan (Schiena) is involved in a drug bust gone wrong where he's framed and mistakenly sent to Blackwater. While inside, he faces off against Vargas and his Punchfighting minions in order to survive. That includes criminals he himself put in jail.
This modern-day Punchighter is another 90-minute commercial for the TapouT brand. While Circle of Pain (2010) has more TapouT product placement than Locked Down, still, somehow, inmates in a maximum security prison have have TapouT shirts and hats.
These TapouT ( we feel very silly adding that last capital T, just so you know) productions always manage to get one B-list name - in Circle of Pain it was Dean Cain, Beatdown (2010) has Danny Trejo, and here we have Vinnie Jones. He is underused as the baddie, and this role doesn't let him live up to his full potential. He wears the same outfit the whole movie and doesn't say that much. As for Kimbo Slice, the filmmakers tacked on some unrelated plot about him fighting people in Florida. The word "shoehorned" comes to mind here. Tony Schiena is such a meatheady dolt - more than usual - I didn't recognize him at first.
There are a lot of classic clichés on display: Bolan tells Vargas "we have a lot of history together", the scene where a guard says to the incoming prisoners "this is the end of the line" and "you can't do anything without my say so", and at one point Bolan even says "this might sound cliched, but my father was a cop...my grandfather was a cop..." Also, Bolan's shrew of a girlfriend whining, telling him he can't a be an undercover cop because she never sees him anymore. The lifer/trainer of the Bolan character, and much more.
Despite some of the negative things we've said so far, Locked Down is really not that bad for a modern-day Punchfighter. These movies hark back to a late 80's/90's style of filmmaking, which is decent, but what ruins that is all the horrible nu-metal music over the top of it all. Tunes such as "Wildfire in the Streets" by Tommy Fields, and other bands such as "Stabbed", "Eject", "Dgat" and others offer their selections as well. The most ridiculous song names a bunch of real-life fighters and how they are all going to, and I quote "pop your hood". What this means exactly is open to interpretation.
As far as the fights, they have all the slow motion and quick cuts you might expect, as well as the choreographed pulled punches, but at least they seem to be TRYING.
Locked Down is worth seeing if you liked Circle of Pain or other TapouT vehicles. It's more of the same.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty