A solid movie that makes you want to beat up all the jerks in the world.
This film was a little too much like that story about Daniel Larusso.Never Back Down gives us the story of Jake Tyler. He's the new kid in school and he's just trying to find his place. He becomes friendly with Baja (Amber Heard) and it seems he may have found something to look forward to in his new digs. Well, Ryan McCarthy (Cam Gigandet) isn't happy about this and, under the auspices of an underground fighting tournament, Ryan and Jake engage in fisticuffs with Ryan getting the short end of the stick. Well, Ryan decides to fight back but he realizes he's going to have to learn to fight Ryan at his own game. In order to meet him at the door he starts to train under the venerable Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou), and in the process Ryan begins to learn more about himself and the man whose tutelage he is getting.
Lets be honest, we have all seen this story before but there is something fresh about Never Back Down. Something tells me that we are going to start seeing a spate of MMA movies and this film will be seen as historically leading the charge.
Mix It Up
I was okay with this featurette that has the actors talking about MMA, what it is, how they prepared for their roles, et al, but I really got upset when Djimon Hounsou talked about how this sport has surpassed boxing. Okay, MMA is way bigger than boxing... right now. However, it's got a long way to go before it can even match the history and cultural fabric that boxing has embedded as a sport in this country. Check this featurette out but I actually found most of the extras on this "Extended Beat Down Edition" to be quite redundant.
Blow By Blow
Whenever there is a fight movie made it is inevitable that somebody is going to talk about one of the actors being able to compete professionally. In this case that honor goes to Djimon Hounsou. There is talk of how hard he hits, how much of a natural fighter he is, and how quickly he took to the sport of MMA. About that turning pro thing, let us not forget that Hounsou is an actor...
Thrill Of The Fight
Training The Cast
Buzzwords like "intense," "rigorous," "respect for the pros" and other lines were thrown around by the actors as they discussed how they prepared to play these parts. Apparently things were very rigorous both in training and on the set. They discuss how MMA is mix of fighting disciplines and how during the fight scenes they were "actually doing it." Nothing too special with this featurette but worth checking out if you are a big fan of the movie.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 2.4:1. Director Jeff Wadlow (Cry Wolf) has made a highly stylized film that recalls the work that David Fincher did in Fight Club. While this movie has a much brighter feel, the action scenes are where Wardlow allows himself to be the most creative. From slowed down shots of blood flying out of people's mouths, to the facial expressions and sweat laden brows, Wardlow drops you into this world and leaves you there to get beat up by it.
English: Dolby Digital 5.1. English SDH, Espanol. The audio on Never Back Down pretty much what one might expect it to be. There was that heart pounding, tough guy music that seems to follow these sorts of films, and sadly seems to mark the sport of MMA as the stuff of meatheads (it is certainly not that at all). I am sure if I had been watching this movie on a TV with a better speaker system I would have been more impressed, but as it was this movie had the audio that one might expect.
Clearly hoping for a Fight Club comparison, this sunburnt cover showcases all the members of the cast. The back features some more images, a description of what Never Back Down is about, a Special Features listing and technical specs. Both discs in this set are stored in one amaray case with everything having a pretty sturdy feel. I am not sure that 2 discs were necessary for this release but to some people maybe they are?
The easiest way to define Never Back Down is as The Karate Kid for the 21st Century. All one needs to do is substitute the karate that Mr. Miyagi taught Danielsan, with MMA, and they know what they are going to get. Does this make Never Back Down a bad film? Should one not see it? I am actually going to say that you should. If you liked The Karate Kid movies I don't see why you wouldn't at least want to give this one a look. I recall seeing the trailers for this movie on TV and I knew precisely what I was going to be seeing. Yet, somehow I wasn't bored during this movie. I just found the plot set-ups, the characters and the overall action sequences to be very enjoyable. My feeling is that if I, a huge fan of all things from the 1980s, found a movie like this to be good, why wouldn't other people like me feel this way?
So, see Never Back Down. I am not saying that you need to own it on DVD, I am not even saying that you have to like it, but maybe, just maybe, after the film runs its 113 minute course you will find yourself filled with the same feelings that Daniel, Miyagi and all the other Karate Kid characters made you feel so many years ago.