Never Back Down Reviews
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 weak...like 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.
At his new high school, a rebellious teen is lured into an underground fight club, where he finds a mentor in a mixed martial arts veteran.
Never Back Down is one of those movies you may happen upon while surfing the available films released on television and, out of curiosity or lack of better choices, inadvertently watch. The story by Chris Hauty seems to be a popular one, so many versions of this plot are floating around out there: angry lad meets his match in a high school kick boxing cum brutal fighting smooth ruffian and finds his way back to some semblance of normalcy by a dedicated coach. Jeff Wadlow directs this endless violence parade with some interesting faces - the angry young man Jake is portrayed by Tom Cruise lookalike Sean Faris, his 'underground fight club' opponent Ryan is Cam Gigandet - but the reason to keep watching this otherwise bloody mess of a film is the always fine Djimon Hounsou as the coach with experience and heart Jean Roqua. There is little character development and the dialogue is thankfully sparse, but if watching young men beat each other up is entertaining for you, then this is a film to sit through - unless you happen to locate a good book to read.
Djimon Hounsou, was possibly my biggest disappointment here, only because I feel he much worthier than this type of film, having said that, we were able to see his physical ability and his capabilities as a Martial Artist.
- Good, 'cause I'm not doing either one"
Ok, we've got this Tom Cruise look-a-like, a Tyler Durden wannabe and the lifestyles of Californian rick kids. What's there not to like? A lot.
Feels like an update of "The Karate Kid", a poor kid who's an outsider and he meets his rival. Everybody knows what's to come.
After watching "Redbelt" earlier, this has nothing to do with the higher meaning of martial arts. In this movie, you hate someone, you kick his ass.
Good looking young kids who have it all, sun and the beach and sweaty testosterone pumped guys who pound themselves with MTV background music. That's what it's all about.
But somehow I managed to watch the film without being bored so it can't be that sucky? Can it?
"You look like shit
- That's an insult to shit"
Still wondering why Djimon Hounsou was in this.
I guess you should watch it only for Sean Faris's eyes.
The acting is fine for this movie but Hounsou is pretty sweet as the old MMA fighter turned gym owner. The fights are pretty well filmed and the story is pretty good as well.
The music in the flick tends to be a little loud when the pop songs play but the selection of the songs works well with the film.
I dug it.
But after the veneer of showing off hot guys and their ripped abs, the movie turned out to be not-so bad overall. It had a decent script that was low on the cheesy made-up teen colloquialisms and slang and actually delivered on a level deeper than kids dying for prom night to arrive.
Sure, it's a pretty shallow movie as a whole, but the acting was pretty good and the trite dialogue was kept to a minimum. Where the good stuff came in was with the more adult performances; cemented by Djimon Hounsou as a broken-spirited leader and Sean Faris' interacting with his mother. Those scenes were really deep, considering how superficial the film was.
The fight sequences themselves were amazingly choreographed and filmed. The use of slow motion and digital effects added a slickness to the film and made it pretty interesting to watch once the throbbing pecs and sweaty thighs got old.
But then again--those things never get old for me.