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.
Gregory Kirschling - Entertainment Weekly
Never Back Down offers extreme fighting as the modern-day alternative to sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.
Jeannette Catsoulis - New York Times
A naive and truly obnoxious movie about the world of Mixed Martial Arts.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
Never Back Down is teensploitation at its most obvious -- a boneheaded cliche-rama built around six-pack-ab standoffs between preening studs.
Desson Thomson - Washington Post
The movie is just a cheesy, preposterous, semi-eroticized way of yelling, 'Fight! Fight!,' when two people go at it in the school cafeteria.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
A modest surprise: better acted than needed, better made than expected.
Jim Ridley - Village Voice
By the time ever-noble, ever-watchable Djimon Hounsou shows up to teach earnest young Jake honor and roundhouse kicks, the power-rock and smashmouth idiocy become like a fever dream, sweaty and hard to shake off.
Joe Neumaier - New York Daily News
It's a little Karate Kid, a smidge of Fight Club...a lot of The O.C. (evil boy Gigandet played an evil boy on that series), and presto: probable hit.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Jeff Wadlow directed this exploitation flick, which seems designed for students on spring break.
Andrea Gronvall - Chicago Reader
You have had soup deeper than this film, and a referee should have been on hand to call foul on the acting.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
With its thin characters and derivative plot, the finished product seems more like a marketing concept than an actual film.
Randy Cordova - Arizona Republic
The human body can't do or withstand the things this movie claims it can, and one can only hope that pic's probable success doesn't trigger a dramatic rise in schoolyard body-slams, arm locks and chokeholds.
John Anderson - Variety
A formula flick that should have tapped out in the script stage.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
Even though it's as predictable as a pro-wrestling match, what it lacks in originality it makes up for in the nervous energy of youth and testosterone.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
Tyler does not live on planet Earth, but planet Hollywood formula, where the storm clouds of Fight Club hang over the once charming but now seedy landscape of The Karate Kid.
Philip Marchand - Toronto Star
Mr. Miyagi would not be pleased.
Jason McBride - Globe and Mail
This movie isn't bad just because it follows a formula slavishly but because it does so without verve or passion.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
At its core Never Back Down is just another teen exploitation movie, but middle-age viewers who wander into the theater might get the same giddy rush as the kids.
Stephen Farber - Hollywood Reporter
Nell Minow - Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies
Hank Sartin - Time Out
Bloody fight film has heart, but it's no champion.
S. Jhoanna Robledo - Common Sense Media
Mark Bazer - Boston Phoenix
Tenley Woodman - Boston Herald
Dean Essner - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Dean Essner - Bullz-Eye.com
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.
Steve Davis - 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.
Jeff Bayer - 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]
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
A generic, violent underdog story that pays a lot of lip service to non-violence when its characters aren't busy kicking and punching the tar out of each other.
Tim Grierson - Screen International
People that actually think the trailer looks cool will probably like the movie enough and it does have some cool fights, I just couldn't get past the fact that the movie gave you no one to root for.
Austin Kennedy - Sin Magazine
While both [this movie and "Karate Kid"] are unintentionally hilarious, the difference is no one will remember "Never Back Down" in two weeks, let alone 20 years.
Stephen Silver - The Trend
The acting is hammy, Djimon Hounsou shows up to give the flick a corny air of Karate Kid and there's nothing particularly original about the whole premise but somehow it works. It must be those abs. Or the kicks to them.
Mike Sage - Peterborough This Week
Come back Mr Miyagi, all is forgiven.
Matt McNally - BBC
A cliche-ridden guilty pleasure.
Orlando Parfitt - IGN Movies UK
The Karate Kid meets Fight Club but it's no way near as good as it sounds.
Nick De Semlyen - Empire Magazine
Enjoyably trashy teen flick that plays like a dumbed-down version of Fight Club, enlivened by an engaging lead performance by star-in-the-making Sean Faris.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
The result is an entertaining roller coaster of emotions and actions, with Djimon Hounsou bringing dignity and meaning to his role as Jean, the martial arts coach with his own demons to conquer
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
Jeff Wadlow's direction is disorderly.
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
If you think about what this film is saying, the superficiality is overwhelming.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Even for the trashy sub-genre it belongs to, "Never Back Down" is sadly just lazy action pablum as will the five Straight to DVD sequels be. I'll just stick to "Karate Kid"...
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Film Threat
Amid all this conventional-plotty mishmash, it's not a newsflash that the role of Jean, the tireless, morally upright and vaguely spiritual mentor, is especially grating.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
Maybe it's just a genre picture, but scene after scene in Never Back Down displays vitality and wit. This is the year's first good-looking and fully enjoyable American movie.
Armond White - New York Press
A cross between "The Karate Kid" and "Fight Club," though without the A-list cast. That's right, the A-list cast. When compared to the D-listers assembled in "Back Down," Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio might as well be A-list.
Christopher Smith - Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Pretty much all of Never Back Down is shot like an episode of Punk'd, with a soundtrack from an MTV2 playlist. Which is all perfectly appropriate and kinda fun.
Tim Cogshell - Boxoffice Magazine
When I think of tough fighters the first thing I think is Disney World. You can take so much of that place before you want to go and beat the heck out of someone.
Michelle Alexandria - Eclipse Magazine
If you thought the problem with Step Up 2: The Streets was that there weren't enough kicks to the head, this virtual remake is for you.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
I laughed so much at the litany of cliches that I finally had to admit I was entertained from start to finish by this cheesy knock-off.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
Compulsively watchable...there's always something viscerally exciting about watching kung fu fighters whaling on each other.
Ethan Alter - Film Journal International
proves to be a bit of a guilty pleasure
Sean McBride - Sean the Movie Guy
The eternal battle between the hot-but-arrogant blond and the hot-and-likable brunet continues on new turf in the almost gleefully bad Never Back Down.
Hank Sartin - Time Out New York
This film's Achilles' heel is its brain.
Michael Sragow - Baltimore Sun
Fetishised footage of taut, muscular young men grappling with and pounding on each other. All I could think was, "Oh, go ahead. Back down. We'll all be happier."
Nell Minow - Beliefnet
Director Jeff Wadlow finds a sort of nobility in the subject matter than you might not expect for a film that consists in large part of bloodthirsty mobs clamoring for violence.
Donald Munro - Miami Herald
The fights are parceled out at intervals during the last half, all leading to a climactic battle. But it's hard to build suspense when you know it is coming and you know who will win.
Ruthe Stein - San Francisco Chronicle
Definitely better than a swift kick to the head, but it's just about as subtle.
Brian Tallerico - The Deadbolt
As Tennessee Williams so often intimated, there's always something to prove down south - typically one's homoerotically-charged sense of manhood.
Keith Uhlich - UGO
...the plot is practically a remake of The Karate Kid. That may be sufficiently long ago that the target audience of teens won't notice, but it's pretty blatant.
Daniel M. Kimmel - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
The story does have its moments, but for the most part it's a paint-by-the-numbers affair.
Neil Springer - Jam! Movies
A pulpy piece of formulaic genre entertainment that couches its nonviolent message in a series of over-the-top, sweaty smack-downs designed to please YouTube's Backyard Brawl Bunch.
Glenn Whipp - Los Angeles Daily News
You could call this "Fight Club Jr." blended with "Karate Kid Redux" and "The Fast and the Furious Again."
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
If you combined The Karate Kid with Fight Club, then threw in a dash of The O.C. and You Got Served then beat it with a stick until it was really stupid, you'd have something twice as smart as Never Back Down.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
If Mystery Science Theater 3000 ever makes a comeback, I've got its first movie. A soulless blend of bad action, bad acting and worse writing, Never Back Down is tolerable only if merciless wisecrackers are offering commentary.
Loey Lockerby - Kansas City Star
Speaking as someone who approached Never Back Down with curiosity and hope rather than a sense of obligation, I implore you to stay away.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
Towering above all is Hounsou, whose performance grants Never Back Down a measure of dignity.
Tom Keogh - Seattle Times
Dean Essner - Baltimore Sun
This unlikely hybrid of The Karate Kid and Fight Club is formulaic and derivative, but sufficiently well made to work as both teen-angst melodrama and bone-rattling brawl picture.
Maitland McDonagh - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Remember in the '80s when they used to make all those stupid fight movies? Never Back Down is just like that. I was in the mood for a stupid '80s fight movie where fights happen just because we want to see fights.
Fred Topel - Can Magazine
Gigandet chews up the scenery like he is a gigantic, post-apocalyptic termite bent on destruction.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
... spouts a hollow message of nonviolence while celebrating the brutal satisfaction of beating the crap out of someone.
Sean Axmaker - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Is Never Back Down so bad it's good, or just plain bad? Really, it's a little bit of both.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
Director Jeff Wadlow and screenwriter Chris Hauty offer viewers nothing that they can't see done better on Spike TV or one of the ESPN clones.
Dan Lybarger - eFilmCritic.com
Never see movies that give stupid macho advice in their titles.
Jan Stuart - Newsday
Imagine if Fight Club impregnated Step Up. Their bastard child would be Never Back Down.
Blake French - Filmcritic.com
Never Back Down is a tired, asinine attempt to piggyback on a fight club subculture and it does wonders to make MMA seem like the most idiotic undertaking in recent memory.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Bruising but brainless teen action-melodrama...like a match that delivers a few good punches but drags on to a dull and predictable end.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
In the future, movies this derivative will be made by robots.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
The 1980s are alive but not very well in Never Back Down...
Josh Larsen - LarsenOnFilm
Surprisingly, the movie is not terrible. In fact, it's watchable -- if you can stand the sight of people pummeling each other.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Finally, a movie that tells us what to do actually has something to say.
Matt Pais - Metromix.com
Seriously, when it comes to filling your soundtrack with whiny, alt-rock ballads, you should highly consider backing down.
Phil Villarreal - Arizona Daily Star
In lieu of character development we get musical montages, and the film is sliced and diced more than all of Sweeney Todd's victims combined.
Mack Bates - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
High School Fight Club. Discover new star Sean Faris and his homoerotic nemesis Cam Gigandet.
Victoria Alexander - FilmsInReview.com
The Karate Kid joins the Fight Club and kicks butt!
Kam Williams - NewsBlaze
Yesterday's Fight Club is today's "Combat Club" in this battle of teen six-pack abs.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
The ethical nitwittery of "fight so you don't have to fight again" and invocations of The Iliad in this context brazenly transform a dumb bone-cruncher into a putridly dissembling one.
Bill Weber - Slant Magazine
Dave White - Movies.com
Coco Forsythe - Future Movies UK
Never Back Down is a compulsory guilty pleasure. Think: Save the Last Dance meets Fight Club meets 8 Mile meets YouTube.
Staci Layne Wilson - Buzzine Magazine