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Never Back Down (2008; Rated Rated PG-13)

Never Back Down
B-
 

“I'm never backing down from my recommendation of this guilty pleasure.”

-Richard Roeper

Never Back Down Review

Never Back Down

(2008; PG-13)

In theaters:
Friday, 14 March 2008

Summary: At his new high school, a rebellious teen is lured into an underground fight club, where he finds a mentor in a mixed martial arts veteran.

Genre:
Action, Drama, Sport

Director:
Jeff Wadlow

Cast:
Sean Faris

At least one film critic I know has told me he's never going to let me live down my recommendation of “Never Back Down.” Can't say I blame him. This is a movie with no soul and nothing original to say, and it glorifies brawling.AllI can tell you is I laughed so much at the litany of clichés that I finally had to admit I was entertained from start to finish by this cheesy knock-off. This film is assembled from various parts of “Fight Club,” “8 Mile,” Step Up,” “Footloose,” “The Karate Kid” and about a dozen other films. Tom Cruise lookalike Sean Faris is Jake Taylor.

Djimon Hounsou has the Mister Miyagi role as the mysterious and wise mixed martial arts teacher. Amber Heard----you know her and you love her from "Pineapple Express"----plays the hilariously named Baja Miller. Reminder: this movie is not a parody, yet they named the obligatory chick of desire "Baja Miller." Isn't that a brand of beer?

Cam Gigandet is the obligatory sadistic bully, who is not impressed by Jake’s growing rep. Cam has seen "The Karate Kid," and he knows how to play the WASPy bad guy. “Never Back Down” is rated PG-13 because the language is mild and the girls keep their tops on—but the violence here is rough and almost non-stop. Director Jeff Wadlow likes playing with hand-held cameras and fast-motion moves. He also gives us multiple montages that are so hokey you wonder if we’re supposed to laugh. There’s no commentary here on high school kids getting off on bloody street fights. No attempt by the adults to step in. Every kid in town is either a fighter or a bloodthirsty voyeur. But at least “Never Back Down” isn’t hypocritical about its mission. It’s mindless action, with no excuses.
 

 
 
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