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Review: Tapped Out

In case you missed it, the big news from this past week was the announcement that upcoming movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was given such an interesting title. Great news, movie fans! Why wait until May of 2016 to see this film, when Tapped Out comes to Canadian theatres Tuesday, May 27th.

Tapped Out is the story of Michael Shaw, a boy who witnesses the murder of his parents, and is then forced to live with his demons, (sound familiar?) This trauma forces Shaw (played by producer and co-writer Cody Hackman, looking nothing at all like a high school student) to become difficult and rebellious when he is in high school. Failing to find a passion and the will to graduate, his principal, (Martin Kove, famous as the Sensei demanding that Cobra Kai “sweep the leg” in The Karate Kid) funnels Shaw into gaining community service hours at the world’s most downtrodden Karate school, run by surprisingly charming Reggie (Michael Biehn). He begins by giving Shaw the thankless tasks of sweeping the floor and cleaning the bathroom, before graduating him to even teaching Karate to little kids, never mind learning Karate himself.

And then—justice dawns. Shaw happens to run into Reggie’s niece, Jen (Jess Brown), who looks more than a little bit like a young Katie Holmes. Jen invites Michael to a cool underground club that features audiences watching unsanctioned mixed martial arts matches. When, wouldn’t you know it, the Superman of the club is Dominic Gray, (former MMA star Krzysztof Soszynski), whom Michael instantly recognizes, thanks to a particularly noticeable tattoo, as the man that killed his parents in the fateful carjacking. So what does Shaw do? He goes to the police, who basically tell him to get lost. So, with the help of Jess and her uncle Reggie, he goes full vigilante, training first as a Karate master, and then, as Reggie just happens “to know a few guys”, (champions Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida), as an MMA fighter as well, so he can defeat the robust Dominic, (one may even say that Dominic, whose motivations are never revealed, is something of a Man of Steel). Does Michael Shaw ever make it to face off against Dominic Gray? Are we ever treated to a match during the dark night? (Many scenes are nocturnal.) You will have to step into the Tapped Out ring to find out.

One thing is clear, though. Novice Canadian director Allan Ungar really does know how to foster tension through well-shot MMA scenes. The build-up is sufficient, and the contrast of styles between the undersized Hackman and the colossal Soszynski is a treat to watch. Tapped Out may have been better served to dispense with justice, (or shown justice coming from within), and instead just featured dudes wailing on each other, with Reggie standing by as wise sage.

Tapped Out is by no means a flawless victory, but is definitely a decisive win.

[star v=3]