Never Back Down is a 2008 martial arts film starring Sean Faris, Amber Heard, Cam Gigandet, and Djimon Hounsou. It was theatrically released on March 14, 2008. The film's tagline is "Win or lose... Everyone has their fight".
The film is rated PG-13 for "mature thematic material involving intense sequences of fighting/violence, some sexuality, partying, and language â" all involving teens". An unrated version called the "Extended Beat Down Edition", featuring nudity and more blood, was released on DVD on July 29, 2008.
Jake Tyler (Sean Faris) has recently moved from Iowa to Orlando, Florida with his mother, Margret (Leslie Hope), and younger brother, Charlie (Wyatt Smith), to support Charlie's shot at a professional tennis career. Jake was a star athlete on the football team at home, but in this new city, he is an outsider with a reputation for being a quick tempered brawler after an internet video of him starting a fight at one of his football games after a frustrated player from the opposing team taunted Jake about his father, who died in a drunk driving accident circulates around his new school.
Making an attempt to fit in, at the invitation of a flirtatious classmate, Baja Miller (Amber Heard), Jake goes to a party where he is unwillingly pulled into a fight with the fighting MMA champion at the school, Ryan McCarthy (Cam Gigandet). Originally, Jake does not wish to fight until Ryan taunts him about his father who died while driving drunk with Jake in the car. Jake is brutally defeated in the fight, causing Jake to feel depressed. But a classmate, Max Cooperman (Evan Peters), who later becomes one of his best friends, introduces himself to Jake and tells him about the sport known as Mixed Martial Arts. He sees a star in Jake and asks that he meet with Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou). It is immediately apparent to Jake that MMA is not street fighting, but rather an art form he wants to master. Roqua agrees to take Jake as a pupil, but under the condition that Jake refrains from fighting outside of the gym which Jake agrees to, despite knowing he wishes to confront Ryan anyway. Baja attempts to apologize to Jake, but he does not sympathize with her and refuses to forgive her. Baja then confronts Ryan about the fight with Jake and proceeds to end their relationship when Ryan shows no remorse for the beating he gave him or his sadistic tendencies. Ryan begins to create a scene before the entire school but Jake tries to step in to defend Baja. After Ryan insults him again and leaves, Jake attends training with Roqua. Still angry about the incident, he is unable to calm down and train effectively. Roqua asks Jake to leave so that he could "cool off".
After he and Max leave the gym, Jake gets into a brawl with a group of guys in a Hummer whom Jake easily disposes of while Max films. This video again circulates around the school raising Jake's social status but agitating Ryan in the process. Ryan then proceeds to challenge Jake to compete in the Beatdown, an underground fighting tournament of which Ryan is the reigning champion. After having been banished from the gym by Roqua after his fight is discovered, Jake begs for forgiveness saying his anger is quelled when he is training with Roqua. Roqua agrees to allow Jake to train at his gym again, but does not take it easy on him anymore. He then prepares to compete in the Beatdown. Jake apologizes to Baja for not listening when she first apologized and the two proceed to begin a relationship. While training with Roqua, Jake inquires why he lives in the gym. Jake discovers that Roqua is from Senegal and he is in exile because he believes he is the reason his brother, Joseph the favorite son, was killed and his father had disowned him for.
Upon hearing that Jake has decided not to compete in the Beatdown, Ryan invites Max to hang out at his house; there he begins to spar with Max before brutally assaulting him and leaving him at Jake's door. Jake and Baja take Max to the hospital where Jake decides to fight. Despite Baja's pleas against his decision, he states that doing nothing has consequences. Before he goes to the tournament, he has a brief argument with Roqua about his decision to fight. Roqua eventually assents and tells him to "control the outcome" of the fight. Jake arrives at the tournament where it is about to begin. After a mix-up where Jake and Ryan almost fight in the first round, they both proceed to make their way through each fight. Jake makes it to the semifinals in spite of an injury he received in the previous match due to a kick to the ribs. While Jake is recovering after the match, Baja sees him and tells him that she finally understands that Jake is fighting "so [he doesn't] have to fight again". After learning that Ryan was disqualified in his semifinal match, Jake forfeits, seeing no reason to continue. While he and Baja attempt to leave, Ryan confronts him and the two finally fight outside in the parking lot. Jake is still limited by his ribs, and Ryan at first gains the upper hand, applying a choke on Jake. However Jake escapes and, with the entire crowd watching, knocks out Ryan using one of the first combinations Roqua taught him.
The next day, a visibly injured Max has been released from the hospital. Jake has won the respect of his fellow students, including Ryan, and Roqua closes the gym with a ticket to Brazil, signaling his intention to reconcile with his father.
- Sean Faris as Jake Tyler, a trouble-prone teenager and the protagonist
- Amber Heard as Baja Miller, Jake's love interest
- Cam Gigandet as Ryan McCarthy, Jake's rival and the film's antagonist
- Djimon Hounsou as Jean Roqua, Max's mentor who agrees to train Jake
- Evan Peters as Max Cooperman, a classmate who introduces Jake to MMA and befriends him
- Wyatt Smith as Charlie Tyler, Jake's younger brother
- Leslie Hope as Margot Tyler, Jake's mother
- Chele Andre as Tiffany West, Baja's friend who likes Max
- Tilky Jones as Eric
- Zach Myers as Jeff
- Neil Brown, Jr. as Aaron, Ryan's best friend
Filming took place entirely in south Orlando, Sanford and Clermont, Florida. All school scenes were shot at Cypress Creek High School except the football scene in the beginning of the film and the courtyard scene 10 minutes in, which were shot at East Ridge High School. It was originally entitled "Get Some", but believed by the producers to have a sexual connotation then changed to its current title.
Screenwriter Chris Hauty was allegedly inspired by his son showing him videos of school fights on YouTube, as well as one that occurred at his school.
Never Back Down debuted in 2,729 theaters at #3 with $8,603,195 in the opening weekend. After 2 weeks in cinemas, it garnered $18,890,093; and after one month the movie earned $37,676,991 worldwide.
The film closed on June 5, 2008 after 84 days at the North American box office with $41,627,431 worldwide against a budget of $20 million.
The film was met with mostly negative reviews, earning a score of 22% on Rotten Tomatoes; the consensus being: "Though not without its pleasures, Never Back Down faithfully adheres to every imaginable fight movie clichÃ©". Gregory Kirschling of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a D, calling it "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." Michael Phillips of Chicago Tribune gave the film two out of four stars, saying, "[i]t's a little Karate Kid, a smidge of Fight Club (with none of the ironic ambivalence toward violence that David Fincher brought to that story), a lot of The O.C. (evil boy Gigandet played an evil boy on that series), and presto: probable hit".
The DVD was released on July 29, 2008 and has so far sold 990,405 units, bringing in $18,495,324 in revenue. This does not include Blu-ray sales.
A 2011 sequel entitled Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown was released with Evan Peters reprising his role as Max Cooperman. Directed by Michael Jai White â" who makes his directorial debut and also top-bills the cast, the film stars Alex Meraz, Jillian Murray, MMA fighters Todd Duffee, Lyoto Machida, Scott Epstein and Australian actor-singer Dean Geyer.
A second sequel, tenatively titled Never Back Down 3, began filming in Thailand in June 2015 again under the direction of White, who also reprises his role as Case Walker. The film also stars Esai Morales, Josh Barnett, Tony Jaa, Nathan Jones and Gillian Waters.
- "Above and Below" â" The Bravery
- "Anthem for the Underdog" â" 12 Stones
- "Teenagers" â" My Chemical Romance
- "Someday" â" Flipsyde
- "Wolf Like Me" â" TV on the Radio
- "Under the Knife" â" Rise Against
- "Time Won't Let Me Go" â" The Bravery
- "Rock Star" â" Chamillionaire & Lil Wayne
- "Be Safe" â" The Cribs
- "Headstrong" â" Trapt
- "False Pretense" â" The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
- "Orange Marmalade" â" Mellowdrone
- "You Are Mine" â" Mutemath
- "Stronger" â" Kanye West feat Daft Punk
- "Crank That (Travis Barker Rock Remix)" â" Soulja Boy Tell 'Em and Travis Barker
- "The Slam" â" TobyMac
- "â¦To Be Loved" â" Papa Roach (Featured during Theatrical Trailer)
The trance track played, when Ryan and his dad argue, is called "Estuera â" Tales From The South (Jonas Steur's Flow Revision)", it did not feature on the soundtrack. It's from the album In Search of Sunrise 5: Los Angeles â" Tiesto
- Modern Day Karate Kid Packs A Punch- NYU News (Feb. 22, 2008)
- Never Back Down Review- The Duke Chronicle Review (Mar. 6, 2008)
- Whats Your Fight? Hollyscoop (March 7, 2008)
- Bill higgins (March 5, 2008). "Never Back Down Gets Its Kicks". Variety.Â
- Never Back Down Taking A BLog Beating UFC Daily (March 8, 2008)
- Mariana McConnell (2008-03-04). "Never Back Down Writer Chris Hauty". Cinema Blend.Â
- 'Never Back Down' Struggles Cincinnati- The Enquirer (March 15, 2008)
- Constance Droganes (March 14, 2008). "Fight Club: Oscar-nominee Djimon Hounsou Kicks Things Up with Martial Arts Flick". CTV.ca.Â
- Philip Marchand (March 14, 2008). "'Never Back Down': Realism Takes A Sucker Punch". The Star.Â 2 out of 4 stars.
- Actors Elevate Fight Film Plot You Know Las Vegas Sun (March 14, 2008)
- John Anderson (March 13, 2008). "Festival Reviews: Never Back Down". Variety.com.Â
- Never Back Down Newsday (March 14, 2008)
- Dan Bennett (March 13, 2008). "Never Back Down' Mixes It Up With Mixed Results". North County Times.Â
- MOVIE REVIEW- Fight Feature: Wadlow's Second Film A Manly Movie The Hook 23 (March 13, 2008)
- Never Back Down at the Internet Movie Database
- Never Back Down at AllMovie
- Never Back Down at Box Office Mojo
- Never Back Down at Rotten Tomatoes
- Never Back Down on Myspace