The music video for “Man Down” was shot in Jamaica in April 2011, and was directed by Anthony Mandler. On May 1, 2011, Rihanna posted three images from the shoot via Twitter. One of the images showed her on a beach wearing a white Dolce & Gabbana dress, while another image showed her riding a bike in Portland Parish. The video premiered on 106 & Park on May 31, 2011. In an interview with MTV News on May 16, 2011, Mandler discussed the music video more in depth:
“We shot the video last month in Jamaica and it’s my favorite song she’s ever recorded, so I was really excited to get involved. And it’s just one of those songs that demands a strong narrative and visual, and let’s just say she let me go all the way. So I think you can expect something that’s dramatic and shocking and intense and emotional and uplifting and enlightening.”
The video begins when Rihanna shoots a man making his way through a busy train station. After committing the crime, the camera focuses on the shot man and later Rihanna flees the scene. To create a timeline of events leading up to the crime, the video travels back in time to the previous day, when the singer is seen riding her bike and meeting with people in Kingston, Jamaica. There are also scenes of Rihanna alone inside a bedroom at dusk. Then at a nightclub, Rihanna begins to dance and flirt with another club-goer, who’s actually the man that she shoots at the beginning. After she leaves the club, the singer’s dance-floor partner follows her outside and begins to get violent. The video then cuts straight to the scene of a disheveled Rihanna crying in the street, after what appears to have been a sexual assault. The video concludes with the singer running to her home where she grabs a gun hidden in a dresser drawer, then that’s when they replay the beginning when she shoots him.