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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Modern Gladiators

Arena on IMDb

Plot Overview

high ballA Denver rugby star (Kellan Lutz) emerges from a scrum to help score some winning points for his team. After the game he comes off the pitch to greet his pregnant wife Lori (Nina Dobrev) and drive away proving to her in conver­sation he knows little about “the inner workings of a female body.” They get into a pileup after which he—being a para­medic—can't detect her pulse. Now a suicidal widower David Lord drowns his misery in booze at some seedy bars down Acapulco way (“I don't speak Mexican.”) He survives being accosted by a heavy when his Marine training kicks in. Thus he draws the attention of an illegal fight recruiter, French-speaking Milla (Katia Winter) who lures him to her lair where a team Tasers him and drags him off amidst her spoken regrets (“Je suis désolé.”)

He comes to to find himself held captive in a converted food processing plant in an out of the way agricultural district of an unknown English-speaking country. The resident “Wizard” Logan (Samuel L. Jackson) is “the man behind the curtain” broad­casting gladia­torial fights live to internet subscribers around the globe. Two double­mint girls Kaneko (Irene Choi) & Kawaii (Lauren Shiohama) man the consoles with consum­mate dexterity bringing the show to life. The production goes all out with kitschy costumes, Roman soldier weapons and graphics. Kaden (Johnny Messner) is The Executioner tasked with administering the coup de grace should the winner of a bout demur. The fan base includes bored Hong Kong office workers and spoiled Psi Upsilon frat brothers. This operation has eluded the FBI, MI–5, and Interpol … for now. It seems to have ignored perimeter defenses in favor of secrecy, in which case shipping in whores for enter­tainment might not be such a good idea. David does not want to fight, but his captors can be very persuasive.


Renamed Death Dealer he's pushed protesting into the arena and must defend him­self from a relentless opponent, then his military training takes over. When the guy he fights is mortally wounded, down on the ground, “Death Dealer” moves in … to administer first aid as his medical training kicks in. The Executioner does not like having to finish Death Dealer's job. The next fight has him dressed as a Ninja battling a Samurai—two mortal enemies—and as the latter is laid out they have a tender moment together before the forced end. David has a hard time getting with the program, but he concludes it's the best of his limited options. We need to wait until the end of the movie to make that ultimate determin­ation, but Milla is so impressed with her recruit that she tends his wounds, provides him comfort, and doctors his sports meds. It's as, (Prov. 11:27) “He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.”

While Death Dealer is diligently doing good within serious constraints, the envious Executioner is trying to subvert the game to get a piece of him. In the end trouble is coming for the Executioner.

Production Values

” (2011 Video) was directed by Jonah Loop. Its screenplay was written by Tony Giglio based on an original by Michael Hultquist and Robert Martinez. It stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kellan Lutz, Katia Winter and Johnny Messner. Lutz handles the fighting lead well but he doesn't make a convincing drunk. Jackson is enigmatic, which works for a man behind the curtain. Winter is a wintery femme fatale full of surprises, but what she looks like under her clothes is fully displayed. It's the female supporting cast who anchor the emotional base of the film.

MPAA rated it R for strong brutal and bloody violence through­out, graphic nudity and language. The sword strikes were covered by the costumes, and the camera mostly focused on the shocked faces of the frat boys' dates during the grue­some parts (“OMG, that is so gross!”) A stressful cacophony used as torture might test the complacency of the audience, as would sword sharpening sounding like chalk on a black­board. The expected sex scenes were skipped in favor of spent after­­maths. Perversions were added to further gross us out: an aborted three­some—one guy w/two girls,—two women kissing each other—more theater than any­thing,—and a black man kissing white women of a different body type—as a show of dominance. I think the director was using a scatter­shot approach to get every­one's goat some­how. There were two fights of a black opposed to a white. When there was a black winner, he knew not to kill the white guy, but not the reverse. I don't know whether we should make any­thing of that.

Languages spoken were French, Spanish, English, and Mandarin. Its runtime is about 1½ hours. The fight choreography wasn't the greatest I've ever seen; it resembled professional wrestling but with deadly weapons.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This film moves right along while keeping the audience off balance with its brutality. It does not telegraph the denouement. It's more for action aficionados than mystery buffs, though there are parts that will appeal to the latter. I wouldn't put this one on the top of my list for a slow day, but I might want to squeeze it in some time.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.