2 quickie reviews of films very recently released on DVD/VOD, and which we've covered on this site.
First, the bad: Politics Of Love, starring Brian White and Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat. I hoped that I’d at the very least, be entertained by it, but I unfortunately wasn’t.
The synopsis, on paper, reads intriguing enough – an African American Republican working for the McCain/Palin campaign ticket falls for an Indian American Democrat (Indian father, African American mother) working on the Obama/Biden campaign ticket. Naturally, conflict ensues; it’s your run-of-the-mill romcom, so I’m sure most will correctly predict the ending long before it happens, which is actually OK; but getting there was trying.
And that’s one of the problems with Politics Of Love; despite its promising premise, the execution, however, results in a work that’s quite bland, which made it easy enough for me to lose interest rather early during the film’s playback.
It’s a romantic comedy that barely exploits its most interesting aspects – it’s socio-political & cultural mishmash. Despite its colorful cast of characters, from varying backgrounds and interests, I can’t say that any of them really separates themselves from the others, or is memorable enough to stand out. They all just seem to blend together, and, maybe worse, are so damned simplistically defined, which makes them uninteresting; the acting isn’t always convincing either. And when you insert them into such an innocuous political tale, you get something that just doesn’t quite resonate.
It’s certainly what I’d call well-meaning, with a message; I guess the takeaway is that no matter how different our backgrounds and perspectives might be, we’re all the same underneath. And it’s technically proficient. But all of that individually or together does not a complete film make.
Ruby Dee and Loretta Devine co-star, but, really, there's very little for them to do here.
Second, the good: Michael Jai White's feature film directorial debut Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, which he also co-stars in.
Not bad at all for Mr Michael Jai White’s directorial debut. I’m actually surprised this didn’t make it to theaters, and instead was released directly to home video.
It’s not what I’d consider "top-shelf" work, but, quite frankly, it’s really no better nor worse than similarly-themed films that studios have released in theaters in recent years; the first film in the series for example, released in theaters in 2008, grossing just over $40 million worldwide. Although it’s not as strong as Jai White’s Blood And Bone, which I also reviewed on this site a year ago, and positively, when, just like this one, it was released directly to home video. He starred in but didn’t direct that one however.
Expect oodles of testosterone-driven chest-pounding in the form of brutal caged matches, stare-downs, verbal assaults, and other forms of intimidation primal amongst us men. So, if that's your thing, you'd be entertained by this.
The acting is shaky at times, given that Jai White’s cast isn’t made up entirely of actors. Some of these dudes are real-life fighters first and foremost, there to give the film its authenticity; so dramatic sequences meant to elicit pathos are more likely to make you chuckle, though not all. But I accepted the film for what it was, and my expectations were met.
It’s efficiently directed for the kind of film it is. Jai White also stars as well, as noted; though he isn’t necessarily the film’s central character. He left that up to a quartet of young white dudes – one of them gets the girl in the end, and wins in the ring, which shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s that kind of straightforward, predictable narrative; but, unlike Politics Of Love, which I got almost no enjoyment out of watching (except maybe those early scenes in which co-star and curvy Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat is introduced), I actually had some fun with Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown. And, if you’re an MMA or Michael Jai White fan, or if the frequent sight of exposed, ripped masculine torsos does anything for you, then you just might be entertained too.
Both Politics Of Love and Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown are now on DVD and VOD.