Never Back Down Review

NbdpwnThanks for checking out our Never Back Down Review!

The General Idea

At his new high school, rebellious Jake Tyler (Sean Faris) is lured into an underground fight club. With the help of legendary Brazilian MMA trainer Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou) Jake learns to focus his natural fighting ability and in the process, masters his emotions. When a new found nemesis leaves Jake no choice but to fight; combat is initiated with strength of mind and body.

The Good

Going in I was skeptical about the fighting. As one of the first MMA films to date, I didn’t expect this one to knock it out of the park. Well, I was wrong. The crazy bastards involved with this project trained a disgusting about (6 hours a day, 6 days a week for 3 months) and as a result, they were ripped to shit fighting machines with the skills to kill. The fighting in this movie was an accurate depiction of MMA combat (with the exception of a few too many high kicks added for theatrical effect) and they kept it extremely entertaining. This is a warrior’s tale and it doesn’t insult the practitioners of MMA with bullshit fight sequences. The people involved should be very proud of the work they put into the fight choreography, the hard work paid off and we all benefit from it.

Much of this film takes place at school. We are introduced to some teenage drama and this is where the film could have gotten incredibly lame. Instead, we get a fairly accurate account of what is going on in affluent schools today. This is no surprise because the writer actually got the idea for this film from actual events. One day his son came home from his Santa Monica high school – told his father about a fight (that the news declared a riot) and then showed him clips of the scrap on MySpace. In less that a few hours fight footage taken via camera phone was on the net for all to see. A light-bulb went off, and the script was born. Throughout the writing process teens were consulted about the story and gave their honest opinion on the dialogue, reactions and interaction of the characters.

This film has a plethora of sluts in bikinis and topless dudes in shorts; there is eye candy for everybody. You never see total nudity, but the amount of skin in this film is both abundant and glorious. I always argue that you need titillation in your action films; it ramps up testosterone and gives you the necessary hormonal shift to fully enjoy your violence (and vice vera). Sluts in a pool are always a quality addition to any high school/frat film. The use of gratuitous skin is where high school and action films intersect and “the bikini” was the glue that held the two genres together.

Djimon Hounsou gives an amazing performance as a dedicated Dojo Legend, and he inspires others to do the same. The acting overall in this film was great, the dialogue was snappy and for a change I didn’t hate the love interest. In fact, Baja (Amber Heard) is quite likable and comes off as an intelligent and socially delightful maiden that’s worth fighting for – this is a welcome deviation from norm.

The Bad

There isn’t much that bothered me with this film. But during the last fight sequence I did find the “shaky cam” a bit off-putting and I would have rather seen more static shots in their place. At a round table last week Director Jeff Wadlow discussed the use of small “lipstick cameras” on the heads of the actors during this sequence. I believe these guys were the objects of my disdain. Wadlow used the cameras so we would get a feel of what it would be like in that situation. I appreciate that he tried something new, and wanted to bring us into the action, but for me it had the opposite effect.

The trailers for this film fucking suck.


This was a formulaic, feel good fight film that did what it set out to do very, very well. You should check it out, and out of 10, I give Never Back Down an 8.

Never Back Down is in theaters March 14 2008

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30 thoughts on “Never Back Down Review

  1. I practice mma. im sure most you of who are making fun of this man’s review dont practice mma. A 8 out of 10 is a very accurate score for this film. Any boy in highschool would take interest in this movie. And the fighting was accurate to real life fight compared to most fighting movies out there. For mma being a relatively new sport this was a great movie to boost mma popularity.

  2. This is a very good movie, probably my favorite movie in a long time. While I respect everybodys opinion I would say that your crazy if you don’t like it.

  3. Can anyone please tell me what shoes Ryan McCarthy was wearing in the scene of this movie when he followed Jake Tyler into the bathroom and choked him with his foot then kicked him in the leg. I would really like to know,

    Thank You

    1. That scene is so hot. Being on the ground with a cute guy’s foot on your throat choking you, controlling your breathing. He should have made him pass out.

  4. i agree with kgirl you guys are just rating on this movie cuz u guys think its easy to do this stuff its not id like have to see have of you even try the shit

    loved the movie and the soundtrack

    1. You agree with Kgirl because you’re gay and enjoy watching garbage. This portrays failure and it did an amazing job in doing so.

  5. After watching this movie I found myself tying a noose ready to kill myself. I am normally a very positive person with a high self esteem and overall happy feelings about the goodness of others. But now I have lost all hope in life and feel that life really isn’t worth living for anymore. This movie encompasses all of the worst parts of the worst movies ever created and somehow manages to put them all to get together.

    I somehow tried to think of all the things I hated most about this movie but whatever hasn’t made this list was also worthless piece of shit cinema that I have erased from my memory so I can somehow try to savor these last few minutes of my life.

    1) You can see the whole movie along with its ending within the first 30 seconds
    2) Everything is bullshit. There are no high school parties with underground fight clubs, girls bathing together, drinking poland springs, without the cops showing from millions of teens in the front yard
    3) the main actor is a faggot. he should die. scratch that. him and the guy who wrote this should tie. i have left two extra nooses for them along with one for every other actor in the movie. except for the mom. who is actually cool.
    4) pain. major pain and ulcers result from watching the unrealistic drama and flashbacks to his dads death. which will probally be less painful than my tonight.
    5) i am getting more pain trying to remember how much this movie sucked and will now kill myself.

    Thank you Jake and the Blond bad person for sucking ass at life, acting, and the person who wrote this movie so he can make a few bucks off some douche bag kids who think they are sweet and want to show their girlfriends that they can fight like jake. u cant. its fake. it sucks. please kill yourselves along with myself tonight and do the world a favor. you will never be fighters. you will be never jake. this movie is a fraud and so are your lives.

    Thank you for causing this unseen death tonight. Goodbye everyone. If you would like to try and worthlessly debate this please email me at [email protected] however by the time you send your message I will already be dead.

  6. this movie was nothing but a disappointment the actors sucked with the expection of Djimon Hounsou and the fights were nothing like most real mma fights if they wanted to impress me they should have been more realistic like where was the fight with the guys on the ground just goin for submissions and passing guards for 15 min

  7. This movie is crap,but most of u ppl who say that dont say it well.The reason this movie is crap it’s not becaus mma is tryng to take out illegal fights and all.This movie insults the idea of a fight club,its filled with male models and fagots and hot chicks who talk crap.the movie is shit.u dont expose a fight club,i mean wtf is this?
    A bunch a fagots,stupid movie and i think all the retards in my class will like it and pretend fight between eaachother.
    fuck i have school tomorow

  8. All the haters who are saying this movie sucks are entitled to their opinion. But if you say this movie does not accurately depict MMA training and fighting you are just dead wrong. I’ve studied it for years, and I can tell you for a fact: the makers of this movie definitely did their homework. Come on! GSP Super Man punch? Yes. Brazilian Ju Jitsu? Big time. Thai box? You bet. So what more do you want exactly????

    MMA is exploding into the mainstream right now. I found it very interesting that they managed to capture that spirit without referring to any current or past legends of the sport.

    Obviously things were exaggerated. I really can’t say for a fact that there are kids having ‘beat downs’ in clubs and plush mansions. But as for the training in the dojo? Bro, if you don’t believe it, you just haven’t done it! I was feeling the pain of the circuit just watching it on the screen. And Djimon Hounsou? Apart from his lame background story (script writers fault, not his) he was TOTALLY convincing, spot on, and put in a very inspiring performance.

    The lead? Dude, how could you go wrong: Tom Cruise meets Ben Affleck all the way! Totally humble and believable performance. The side-kick? Friggin’ hillarious! I laughed so hard in this movie; the scenes and the dialogue where impeccable.

    This movie was so well constructed. Honestly, i went in with the lowest possible expectations and came out inspired and blown away.

    Rocky meets Karate Kid meets Fight Club meets Road House, updated for the 21 century, with a decent dose of humor thrown in.

    I was in a cinema filled with really young kids, and frankly, watching this movie made me feel young too. Everyone clapped at the end. So how can you possible think this is a bad movie? You might not like it; but it definitely merits the 8/10 review. Face it; there are so many worst movies out there! If you are ready to be inspired and entertained, don’t listen to the haters; go see this movie and decide for yourself!

    Peace Out.

  9. I just saw this movie and i loved it.
    the guys were hot!

    and all the people complainning are just mad cause
    they either cant fight or are just butt ugly.

    1. It’s brainless idiots like you that feed the uncreative directors who film garbage like this. I was a die hard boxer before doing American Kenpo and branching off to Muay Thai and BJJ. I intentionally watched this movie to piss myself off and see how horrid it would be. I am thoroughly satisfied as my objective was accomplished.

      The fact that the person who wrote this review feels this simulates MMA is obviously ignorant to MMA. This portrays MTV MMA which is worthless and flashy. I’d truly like to see anyone here take a double power bomb on the hood of a car to asphalt and then reverse a choke 13 seconds into it. It takes 10-15 seconds to choke someone out, at 13 seconds you no longer have the strength to hold your piss in.

      Anyway, all the courage lacking junkies who need films like this to inspire them into believe they can fight put your hands together. This movie won’t make you an MMA fighter but it will make you want to shoot our brains out from the predictable nature that ALL MTV movies have.

      Don’t waste your time watching this trash.

  10. This movie was a crock of shit..the eight rating is ridiculous. This movie did not accurately portray MMA or Underground street fighting. This movie is aimed at individual who wish they had the heart to even attend a real smoke match. More hollywood crap , capitalizing on something enjoyed by many and making it cookie cutter commerical crap. Fighters don’t look like male models , these guys don’t have bodies ripped to fight or have any skills to kill. Y’know what Don Wilson may do alot of B grade action movies but I give him more credit than the pansies in this movie because he is an actually contender. But thats the problem real fighters have faces for radio. Benny the Jet , is an incredible fighter. The only movie he made it into was Gross Point Blank. This film was designed so yuppies without the courage to step into the ring can get amped up and monkey around with their buddies and pretend they can fight. Here’s a tip..this crap takes place in Orlando right , save the money on the film if you live in the area ; and take the first exit before Gatorland Zoo. Head down to the civic center and watch a few real smoke matches.

  11. I liked this movie and I recommend it. I saw this movie as a cross between Step Up and Fight Club (Well a PG-13 version). It has the same dialogue and archetypal storyline as Step Up. Both movies are based on a sub culture “sport” mix marshal arts (Never Back Down) and competitive street dancing (Step Up). This type of movie has become the new age sports film. I remember when football and basketball champs is what made you king of the school, but now underground competition champs are who rule the schools. Fight Club is one of the best fighting movies. Well, this one is no Fight Club but it has its spirit. It dose justice to mix marshal arts. It not a lame knock off of mix marshal arts but a good reputation. If you watch UFC and Pride Fighting religiously then you most like will like this movie.

  12. Just got back from this, and I totally agree with Doug. I went in thinking Doug was nuts for giving it an eight, but walked out agreeing that it was an eight. Djimon Hounsou was great in this, and even the relative unknown actors in this movie were really great. I wouldn’t go as far as calling this the “Karate Kid” of this generation, but if there was any film that was going to be compared to it, this would be it. If you get over the bad trailer, you’ll enjoy this.

  13. I have only seen the trailer for this and that is enough to keep me away. I absolutely HATE these types of films.
    Young hot stud outsider, thrown in to the higher class world of some competition. Hero falls for villain’s girlfriend who ends up kicking the shit out of him but thanks to a pumping montage the hero returns and swiftly kicks the villain’s ass, but only after the villain has beat him half to death. But true love gives our hero the strength to stand up in slow motion, much to the surprise of the villain, and punch him out in an awesome slow mo shot.
    Am I in the ball park here?

  14. Oh what the hell? I seen this movie under false pretenses with my younger brother and this movie was almost as bad as Bloodsport. First off, MMA,a joke when compaired to street brawling. This of course tried to be both and did horrible. The fights were slow and seemed so coreographed to the point where half of the fight the fighters always seemed to get that perfect move off to win the match. Also the whole Guy from the outside is thrown into this world of underground fighting is old and tired concept. Also what the hell was up with all the fighters having bodies of male modles? I guess the director and producer wanted to makes this film look pretty for women to watch as well as the guys. The title is soo crappy, Never Back Down is so a young adult positive re-inforcement of the idea when in a tough situation you never quit and you be the best. Fight Club was a gem and shines much brighter then this film. However, there is one thing I did like in the film and that the fact the writer didnt make this a kinda story like the Fast and Furious with undercover cops and drug rings or theft. But Doug you have your opinion and I have mine. You give it an 8 and I give it a 4.

  15. “One of the first?”

    Maybe there is more of a focus on Brazillian jujistu more than Enter The Dragon or Bloodsport, but both films highlighted MMA, although this new film all but spells it out.

    I’m really interested to see how this film does. The trailers don’t do the film justice, although most of them wisely show up on Spike, specifically anything UFC related. I also agree with Ransom above- it’s been some time where we had a good big screen martial arts fight film, one that does not include FX and wirework…or a slight downgrade as seen from Transporter 1 to Transporter 2.

  16. I suppose that reviews are always subject to personal taste and opinion, but an 8 out of 10 seems very high for this type of film.

    It’s hard to imagine that this film is better than The Bank Job, which you gave a 7, but I’ll have to reserve judgement until I see both movies.

    Good review though, Doug. Even though the trailers are shitty, I still got the feeling that this was going to be a kick ass movie. There hasn’t been a decent fighting movie out in quite some time. I’m actually looking forward to this one.

  17. In order to disagree with my rating – you have to see the film. If you read my review I make it clear that the trailers are “not very good”.

    And I cannot mess up my honest opinion, which is what I can always promise you.

  18. seriously? 8 out of 10? This looked like a cheesy MMA version of “Save the Last Dance.” They even ripped off Fight Club in their trailer. Doug, you messed up on this one.

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