REVIEWS: Action & Thrillers, Video — October 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm

REVIEW: Arena (2011) + trailer

A fireman from Denver, David Lord (Kellan Lutz) all of a sudden gets into a car crash with his pregnant wife. The wife dies, Lord survives, and becomes an alcoholic. One night, a mysterious girl seduces him in a bar, and after a night with her, Lord wakes up in hell.

By “hell”, I mean some facility, where many others like him are forced to participate in these brutal no-holds-barred gladiator-like fights to the death. All this is being broadcasted online to the paid members, and the whole system is being ruled by SLJ (Samuel L. Jackson himself!).

Now, Lord doesn’t know where he is, he is forced to fight, however he believes he still can get himself out of this, and proposes SLJ a deal – if Lord wins 10 fights in a row, he goes free.

Knowing no one has ever won a much as 5 in a row, SLJ agrees, and from there on its a non-stop fighting with lots of blood, severed heads, and so on. And, there is a twist at the end, but it’s revealed so quick, its really unimpressive.

This movie reminded me of the infamous b-movie action films of the 90’s, except here we have somewhat solid actors (Samuel Jackson, James Remar), but the movie formula remains the same.

This is also the first film I’ve seen Kellan Lutz in, and he looks quite impressive. Now I understand, why producers wanted him for the new “Conan”, he’s got the looks, and his acting would do just fine in the right movies.

As for Samuel L. Jackson, I can see why he accepted the part – his character enjoys himself throughout the whole film, he gets to say all the cool lines, gets to kiss the girls, and so on. James Remar has a small role as a federal agent.

Two more actors that should be mentioned here are Derek Mears (yes, the one who played Jason Vorhees in the latest “Friday 13th” movie), and Johnny Messner who plays a “punisher-like” character, who finishes off the defeated gladiators after the fight. The guy’s got a great voice, he should definitely do some voice work.

So, to sum it up, this movie doesn’t have any martial arts in it, but there are plenty of fights, and they’re gory. Very gory and brutal. If this is your cup of tea, give it a look.

This is not a “martial arts, arena-bloodsport” type of a movie, so if you’re looking for that, skip “The Arena”. If you still can’t decide, watch the trailer below.




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  1. This movie really sucked. I actually thought Kellan Lutz’s acting wasn’t good. I expected a bad movie but I didn’t imagine it to be this bad. We’ve seen the same premise in Gamer and Death Race it’s getting old now.

  2. I agree that Kellan’s acting is nothing to brag about, but he fit this particular part. If this movie had more martial arts in it, it probably could have been better. Worth watching at least once.

  3. Yeah, if it had more impressive fight choreography and more martial arts, I might actually feel comfortable recommending it to Enter the Dragon/Bloodsport fans, who aren’t really known for being very discriminating. Still, if you’re desperate for more derivative, exploitative action movies, there are worse to choose from. Amsterdam Heavy, for example. The stunts and fight choreography weren’t all that great, but they were good enough to make it watchable. A better story would have helped a lot, but, to be honest, there have been very, very few action movies with a good story.

    I miss the heyday of martial arts/action movies. Hong Kong stars like Bolo Yeung, Bruce Lee, Sammo Hung, and Jackie Chan knew what to give the fans, and they put everything they had into it. Even the much maligned career of Jean-Claude Van Damme stands up well, compared to the utter crap that we’re expected to swallow today. At least Jason Statham has put out some good movies…

  4. In my opinion, ARENA is nowhere near BLOODSPORT or ENTER THE DRAGON, both of which are considered (rightfully) cult classic martial arts movies.

    This Kellan Lutz vehicle is just a mediocre time passer. Again, had this movie more martial arts in it, it would have been better, and more importantly – more entertaining.

  5. Budget of 10 million. No talent director. Lousy script. What do you expect…

  6. Personally I enjoyed the movie; I thought Arena was worth seeing at least once. I do prefer some action with my gore and if you like to watch movies and save money, you can watch it by using Blockbuster.

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