Never Back Down (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Never Back Down (2008)



Critic Consensus: Though not without its pleasures, Never Back Down faithfully adheres to every imaginable fight movie cliché.

Never Back Down Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Jake Tyler is a tough kid who leads with his fists, and often, with his heart. He is the new kid in town with a troubled past. He has recently moved to Orlando, Fla., with his family who has relocated to support his younger brother's shot at a professional tennis career. Jake was a star athlete on the football team at home, but in this new city he is an outsider with a reputation for being a quick tempered brawler. Making an attempt to fit in, at the invitation of a flirtatious classmate, Baja, Jake goes to a party where he is unwittingly pulled into a fight with a bully named Ryan McDonald. While he is defeated and humiliated in the fight, a classmate introduces himself to Jake and tells him about the sport known as Mixed Marshall Arts (MMA). He sees a star in Jake and asks that he meet with his mentor, Jean Roqua,. It is immediately apparent to Jake that MMA is not street fighting, but rather an art form he wants to master. Roqua will take Jake under his wing, but it is up to Jake to find the patience, discipline, willingness and reason within him to succeed. For Jake, there is much more at stake than mere victory. His decision will not just settle a score; it will define who he is. more
Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic material involving intense sequences of fighting/violence, some sexuality, partying and language--all involving teens)
Genre: Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Chris Hauty
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 29, 2008
Box Office: $24.8M
Summit Entertainment - Official Site


Sean Faris
as Jake Tyler
Amber Heard
as Baja Miller
Cam Gigandet
as Ryan McCarthy
Evan Peters
as Max Cooperman
Leslie Hope
as Margot Tyler
Djimon Hounsou
as Jean Roqua
Wyatt Smith
as Charlie Tyler
Affion Crockett
as Beatdown DJ Swagga
Tom Nowicki
as Mr. Lloyd
David Zelon
as Ryan's Dad
Chris Lindsay
as Beat Down Referee
Kyle Sabihy
as Jake's Teammate
Patric Knutsson
as Vocabulary Guy
Cameron Francis
as ER Doctor
Jeremy Palkowetz
as Running Back
Anthony Matos
as Yellow Hummer Crew
Antony Matos
as Yellow Hummer Crew M...
Danny Hernandez
as Yellow Hummer Crew
Daniel Hernández
as Yellow Hummer Crew M...
Justin Williams
as Yellow Hummer Crew
Justin A. Williams
as Yellow Hummer Crew M...
Jon McIntosh
as Beat Down Computer K...
John McIntosh
as Beat Down Computer K...
Chele Andre
as Max's Girl
David J. Perez
as Miles Dupree
Jocelyn Binder
as Hot Tub Chick
Deon Stein
as Hot Tub Chick
Steve Zurk
as Jake's Dad
Reed Baumgarten
as Mansion Fighter
Devin Higgins
as Mansion Fighter
Jennifer Miller
as Female Mansion Fight...
Delphine French
as Female Mansion Fight...
Joe Williams
as Latino Mansion Fight...
Angel Hernandez
as African-American Fig...
Rachael Thompson
as Ex-Girlfriend Mansio...
Ryan Frank Rayonec
as Ex-Boyfriend Mansion...
Tony Fuh
as Stackwell
Joshua Mueller
as Last Year's Opponent
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Never Back Down

Critic Reviews for Never Back Down

All Critics (88) | Top Critics (25)

Movie is dopey. And with its emphasis on stupid violence, xylophone abs, and getting yourself on YouTube, it's yet another product that makes you feel bad about today's youth culture.

Full Review… | March 19, 2008
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Bloody fight film has heart, but it's no champion.

Full Review… | December 31, 2010
Common Sense Media

A naive and truly obnoxious movie about the world of Mixed Martial Arts.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008

While the character of Jake isn't an emotionally taxing one, Faris has his moments, especially in a low-key scene in which he attempts to explain why his character is full of rage.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Austin Chronicle

Here's what I hoped for: someone to root for, someone to root against, an inspiring coach, some eye candy and, of course, training montages. I got what I wanted.

Full Review… | August 27, 2008
The Scorecard Review

A sort of teenage Fight Club, complete with daddy issues, Never Back Down is a slight refinement of the sort of picture that was ascendant in the '80s... [Blu-Ray]

Full Review… | August 5, 2008
Groucho Reviews

Audience Reviews for Never Back Down


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

It delivers a serious beatdown. It`s The Karate Kid for a new generation of martial arts fans. A wickedly cool and tremendosuly entertaining action-packed movie with a great cast and a great soundtrack. A knockout. Djimon Hounsou gives a powerful and thunderous performance.

Al S

Super Reviewer


Win or Lose... Everyone Has Their Fight

Saw it again! Very Nice! Great fights with very good moves you don't see often in movies and you could learn some moves from this film. Djimon Hounsou as usual sweating like crazy but he did good as supporting actor. Nice young cast, Cam Gigandet has the exact same body I want, we'll see..

Jake Tyler (Sean Faris) helps his high-school football team win an important game. A frustrated player from the opposing team makes taunts about Jake's father, who died while driving drunk. Infamously-hot-tempered Jake starts a brawl with the opposing player. Spectators capture the brawl with mobile phones and video-cameras. Soon, the brawl is uploaded to YouTube.

Jake gets thrown off the team for brawling, but takes it in stride because he is leaving this school anyway. He and his younger brother Charlie (Wyatt Henry Smith) are moving with their widowed mom to Orlando, Florida where Charlie has received a tennis scholarship. The Tyler brothers are close despite Jake's penchant for fighting and getting into trouble, which greatly upsets their mom (Leslie Hope).

At his new school, Jake has a hard time fitting in. He catches the eye of Baja Miller (Amber Heard), a pretty classmate who flirts with him. Later, Jake notices fellow student Max Cooperman (Evan Peters) getting beaten up on campus. Jake rushes to Max's aid, only to discover that the "bullying" he disrupted was actually a street-kickboxing match. Everybody present, including Max, demands that the astonished Jake leave.

At school the next day, Max lets it be known that there are videos on the internet of Jake's football brawl, which has gained him a positive reputation on campus. Max invites Jake to come and learn mixed martial arts with his instructor, while Baja invites Jake to a party at her boyfriend Ryan McCarthy's mansion. Jake declines the former offer but accepts the latter. At McCarthy Manor that night, host Ryan (Cam Gigandet) - having seen the internet footage - challenges Jake to demonstrate his brawling prowess in a fight against...Ryan himself. When Jake refuses the challenge, letting Ryan know that Jake came to the party only because Baja invited him. Ryan kisses Baja in front of Jake to verify whose girlfriend she is. Jake realizes that he's being set up, and attempts to leave - until Ryan makes taunts about the disgraceful death of Jake's dad. An angry Jake accepts the challenge but is brutally defeated by Ryan. Baja appears disgusted with Ryan for continually beating on Jake, despite the fact that Jake was obviously down and out.

A day later, Max comes to Jake's house, and repeats the invitation to come and learn Mixed Martial Arts from Max's instructor, Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou). This time, Jake accepts. He meets Max at Roqua's gym and is introduced to Roqua himself. Roqua briefly interviews Jake...who, he senses, is there for the wrong reasons. Nonetheless, Roqua allows Jake to train with him - both in class, and personally before classes - on the condition that Jake does not fight anybody for any reason outside the gym. Jake notices that Roqua apparently lives in the gym.

The night after Jake's first training session, Baja comes over to his house to apologize for setting him up at the party. Jake quickly retorts after Baja tells him about her school life, saying "Does that mean I'm meant to feel sorry for you because you're popular?" The next day, Baja confronts Ryan and breaks up with him on account that he beat Jake up. In his anger, he grabs Baja's arm and refuses to let go, even after she pleads. Jake appears and attempts to stop it, only to which Ryan insults his late father, saying "You're your old man...was". This insult has a negative impact on Jake's training that afternoon. At the gym, he is too aggressive, and, Roqua, sensing this, tells him to go home to cool off. Max gives Jake a ride in his Ford Mustang. At a set of lights, three guys in a yellow Hummer relentlessly and annoyingly beep their horn at Max. Jake, still angry from Ryan's insult, and spurred on by the repetitive horn, goes out to confront the three guys. He beats them all up on the street, and the footage is filmed by Max, and uploaded and spread throughout the internet. This further improves his social profile within the school, now being the second-most popular boy after Ryan.

The next training session, and unfortunately for Jake, Roqua sees that Jake has wounds on his knuckles which could have only come from fighting against his rules and banishes Jake from the gym. When Roqua goes grocery shopping, Jake confronts him and admits that Roqua was right: he signed up to train for the wrong reasons. Jake also tells Roqua the late Mr. Tyler's story; evidently, Jake feels that his mother blames him for her husband's demise. Roqua then tells his story: he had an younger brother, who was an excellent mixed-martial artist. One day in a bar, a local bully mouthed off at young Joseph, who was about to fight the bully himself. His brother won the brawl, only to be shot and killed by the bully's friends. Jean's father blames him for permitting the situation to escalate into violence which could have been avoided. Jean left home over that; he has not seen his father, or even set foot in Brazil, for the past seven years.

Jake declines to enter The Beatdown. When Ryan discovers this turn of events he invites Max to McCarthy Manor on false pretenses. There Ryan engages Max in combat and beats him brutally. Fearing for his friends' safety, Jake reverses his decision and enters The Beatdown after all - only to face Ryan. Roqua hears of this as well, and confronts Jake with an ultimatum: Jake will never be allowed near the gym again if he even goes to The Beatdown, much less fights in it. Jake - realizing that Roqua is trying to prevent him from making the same mistake which Roqua himself made with his own father - answers that Roqua's only mistake was not doing what Jake himself is about to do. Said mistake wasn't brawling; it was evading the conflict at hand, rather than confronting and resolving it.

At The Beatdown, both Jake and Ryan reach the semi-finals. Then Ryan is disqualified for eye-gouging. In view of this, Jake taps out one second into his semi-final bout (because his purpose for entering The Beatdown to begin with is no longer present). Outside the club, Ryan attacks Jake and they have a spectacular brawl in the club parking lot. Ultimately Jake wins the fight. (In the 2 Disc and Blu Ray versions, there is a deleted scene where Ryan tries to challenge Jake to a rematch.) Jake replies to this by bringing to light the fact the fans are chanting for the rematch unsatified with the fight they just saw, and subsequently they want to watch just simply two guys "kill" each other and do not care about the sport itself. This would cause Ryan to realize he had basically been a puppet to gladitorial combat for the amusment of others and not the one on top and in control he thought he was. Angered and embarrassed he yells at the crowd and runs off.

Jake has won the respect of all his fellow students, up to and including Ryan. For the first time in a long while, Roqua closes the gym and goes to visit his family in Brazil.

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Never Back Down Quotes

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