Action Movie Fanatix Review: Arena (2011)

Arena 2011 banner

There’s No Greater Battle…
Than The Battle For Your Life.

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kellan Lutz, Johnny Messner, Daniel Dae Kim, Katia Winter, James Remar

Written by: Tony Giglio

Director: Jonah Loop

2011  |  94 Minutes  |  Rated R

“What we have here is a failure to communicate!  I’ve always wanted to say that line!” – Logan

I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder toward these young Twilight actors who are making some moves toward being some sort of modern action stars.  It bugs me.  I want to trust Stallone in his picking Kellan Lutz for The Expendables 3 but I’ve decided to take a look at Arena to see if I can figure out what Sly sees in this kid.

After his wife and unborn child are murdered, firefighter David Lord (Kellan Lutz) is kidnapped and forced to fight in the Death Games, an illegal televised fighting tournament put on by the evil entrepreneur Logan (Samuel L. Jackson).

Forced to fight tournament fighters are a dime a dozen in the DTV market.  Arena sought to do something a little different by dropping the fighters into a virtual world with different time periods and weapons for each fight – medieval, samurais, post-apocalyptic, etc.  The fights are pretty sweet too even if the only people watching are drunk frat boys and kooky Asian dudes.  Unfortunately the majority of his fights are shown in a montage which means we only got a few shots from each fight.

When we do have a full length battle they are plenty fun and plenty bloody.  The variety of locales and weapons helps to keep each fight unique and interesting.  And the choreography and filming of said fights are as solid as most Hollywood releases.  It’s actually kind of surprising that this thing didn’t get more attention than it did.

So, how was the new Expendable Kellan Lutz?  Meh…  He has the look of an action star.  I’m sure most ladies find him to be quite attractive with his slightly curly blonde locks and toned body.  He’s also pretty believable in a fight.  The guy can’t act though.  It seemed like the director realized this early on and kept his lines to a bare minimum.

Samuel L. Jackson absolutely steals the show here.  He hams it up as the evil Logan, yelling every memorable line of the movie.

There are a couple other notable faces in Arena.  James Remar is in a couple short scenes as David’s brother.  I have a hard time seeing James Remar as anything other than Dexter’s dad.  The brief scenes he is in feel very similar to old man Morgan spouting rules at Dexter.

Lost’s Daniel Dae Kim is also in the movie for a couple shots.  He is a fellow fighter who is fighting to save the life of his wife.  I don’t want to ruin anything but let’s just say that he isn’t in the movie for too terribly long.  Probably had to get back to the set of Hawaii Five-0.

I had seen Arena in store shelves for the past couple years and never got around to watching.  I’m glad I finally did.  It’s far from a great movie but there’s a lot of fun to be had and it does just enough to rise above the b-movie pack.

2 thoughts on “Action Movie Fanatix Review: Arena (2011)

  1. Isn’t a great movie. I only watched to the end to see what happens. The guy can’t act. N see the way he rushes his meal in confinement… Didn’t look real at all.

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