Tyrese Gibson goes from playing the constant butt of jokes in the Fast and Furious saga to a more serious and major butt-kicking lead in this thriller from the director of Welcome to Sudden Death.

Terry Savage was once of the top military officers of his unit. He would go above and beyond to help his platoon. However, things are different when he returns home. Nearly broke and penniless, he has learned his daughter has a medical condition which he can’t afford. Deciding to rob drug dealers, he finds himself arrested when one of the raids is stopped by police. It is while under arrest, he’s given a chance for both freedom and to have his daughter’s medical bills paid.

Savage is to be transferred to a maximum-security prison where Warden Lucas runs the place. However, it is no ordinary prison as Lucas brings entertainment in the form of The Dungeon, an underground fight ring where the strongest prisoners engage in combat. Under the tutelage of the reclusive Bones, Savage embarks on a mission to become the best in the prison so he can take it down at the same time and be the dad and man he was meant to be after the war.

Prison fight films have been around for a long time. While many will consider the Undisputed franchise one of the best thanks to its sequels featuring Scott Adkins as the immortal Yuri Boyka, there have been underrated films such as 2008’s Ring of Death and 2011’s Locked Down to name a few. This one has a few minor flaws, but is an overall good effort from director Dallas Jackson, who directed the reboot Welcome to Sudden Death.

This time, we see Tyrese Gibson in a more serious role as opposed to his typecast role of the butt of all jokes meshed with action. Here, he is all action in the role of Savage, an ex-soldier just doing what any father would do to make sure his child is okay. Even if it means resorting to illegal means, in this case robbing drug dealers. He spends most of the film with a grim look due to the circumstances he must face throughout the film. The only time we see him crack a smile is when he is with his daughter, as she is the guiding light that makes him who he is and who he becomes.

Terrence Howard channels his character from the 2009 film Fighting as Bones. While his character in the previous film is a street hustler who sees potential in a fighter, Bones is a reclusive prisoner who serves as a big brother to Savage and becomes his mentor. In a way, he seeks redemption for himself as his former protégé Freeway, played by the always impressive Marrese Crump, has turned to the dark side, becoming the top dog of the Dungeon. He believes Savage could be the one to take down Freeway, but Freeway isn’t the real antagonist of the film.

That honor goes to a hammy, over-the-top Jeremy Piven as Warden Lucas. Using a Southern accent, Lucas created the Dungeon for pure entertainment for the prisoners. He’s the type who has to have his way or no way. In a way, he is like Boyka, especially when it comes to a near ambush with Savage facing some of Freeway’s goons that leads to the death of the most sympathetic guard, one who knew of Savage’s reputation as a war hero. However, overall, Lucas is an animal running his own asylum and he doesn’t care who knows as long as they know.

The System is not a bad film at all. In fact, it’s a decent film that gives Tyrese Gibson a chance to do something a little different and who better of an adversary than the amazing Marrese Crump? Terrence Howard does well as the mentor while Jeremy Piven just hams it up as the prison warden. A few small flaws, but overall a good effort.


The Avenue presents a SkullCrusher Films production in association with BondIt Media Capital. Director: Dallas Jackson. Producer: Bryan Lord. Writer: Dallas Jackson. Cinematography: Michael Brouphy. Editing: Justin Williams.

Cast: Tyrese Gibson, Terrence Howard, Jeremy Piven, Marrese Crump, Laura Aleman, Lil Yachty, Ric Reitz, Eric Walton.