3 StarsArena knows what it wants to accomplish and does so with professionalism, style and a fair amount of ingenuity. Although the film plays like Saw meets Gladiator, it also owes more than a little to films like Cube and Fortress. Twilight bruiser Kellan Lutz is David Lord, a rugby playing Denver fire fighter who loses his pregnant wife in a terrible car accident. Despondent and severely drunk he winds up in a Mexico bar with the intention of drinking himself to death. While flashing a wallet full of cash he attracts the attention of a corrupt bouncer who attempts a robbery in the bathroom. After making quick work of the hulking attacker, David is drugged and kidnapped only to awaken a prisoner and unwilling contestant in an underground fighting tournament.
Director Johan Loop pushes the violence, gratuitous gore and frontal nudity to the limits of the MPAA ratings. This production looks expensive enough to have played theatrically abroad, but here in the states it has to settle for a straight-to-DVD release. That may mislead potential viewers into thinking that Arena is another bottom of the barrel fight flick, in reality it’s one of the most entertaining films of its kind I’ve seen in years.
Director: Jonah Loop
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kellan Lutz, Katia Winter