Never Back Down – a modern day Mixed Martial Arts meets ‘The OC’ style movie. Well, that’s what it says on the cover anyway!
So we’re introduced to Jake, a young 17 ish year old guy as he plays football. Things are going well, they’re winning the game until one of the players has a stab at him about his father, who drove drunk with Jake in the car some time ago, killing himself in an accident.
Jake blames himself but erupts into a rage and knocks the other football player out with a right hook before being pulled away. After all of the commotion his family moves away to Orlando, where his younger brother will train to become a professional Tennis player.
Jake has trouble fitting in and is inevitably invited to a party where he meets Ryan. Ryan is basically the king of popularity and seemingly unbeatable in the ‘Street MMA’ circuit in the area. Hungry to challenge Jake after seeing his fight, he baits Jake into a fight and beats the living shit out of him.
Jake is then convinced by his friend to start training in MMA. So he very quickly starts to gain some skill and earns a name for himself, which ticks off Ryan. So Ryan starts cause problems for Jake and trys to bait Jake to fight him at the ‘Beatdown’ a local tournament. So after severely hurting one of Jakes friends, Ryan gets the answer he’s after – Jake enters the Beatdown and the two get the fight to end all highschool fights.
Teenagers and MMA?
Sounds like a scary thought. If high school (which I left MANY years ago) was anything to go by than I’d hate be surrounded by kids who actually have skills!
The social groups and crappy popularity driven pressure of high school is well represented in this film like all other teen dramas. A little ‘karate kid’ comes creeping in when Jake starts to learn MMA and faces his own anger and issues simply to be allowed to keep training. But even Jake’s trainer faces a his own issues when confronted with his ‘no fighting outside of the club‘ rule, with Jake stating that doing nothing has consequences too.
What I really appreciated though, all drama aside, Jake’s attitude changes as a direct result of training hard. Getting the out the angst and stress in a training environment is a huge thing most people can benefit from. It’s pretty cool to see them preach that in this film.
There was, surprisingly, a few messages put into this film that are based around Martial Arts, but I gotta say that if Jake were a student in real life, I’m sure any instructor would have gotten sick of him pretty quick! He started out as an aggressive student full of attitude, coming at his training partners like a bull at the gate. Watching him transform and become a better person is really what the movie seems to be about, and how he used MMA to overcome his problems – that were kind of caused by douche bags in MMA…
The Action & Martial Arts
The action is pretty fun and hard hitting. Although things are a little choppy and the techniques not quite as crisp as I would have liked I still enjoyed it. Jake and Ryan offer the best fights, especially their finale fight in the car park.
What I realy enjoyed watching from a Martial Arts perspective was the training. The formula is really about as 70’s Kung Fu as you can get! Kid gets beaten, kid finds a master, trains and becomes the superior fighter.
It’s also interesting to note the difference in fighting style between Jake and Ryan. Jake plays amore passive game, focusing on ground game just a bit more than stand up, submitting most of his opponents while Ryan seems to be a more aggressive striker.
Overall they’ve represented MMA well, both in the physical performance as well as the culture it seems to have created.
Not a bad movie, good fun and not too serious. Check it out!
On Blu Ray –
Region A (US & Canada)
Never Back Down [Blu-ray]
Region B (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe etc)
Never Back Down [Blu-ray]
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Never Back Down (Single-Disc Edition)
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Never Back Down [DVD]
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
Never Back Down