DVD Review: Never Back Down

51sALQ9RkOL. SS500  DVD Review: Never Back Down

Never Back Down defines the guilty pleasure movie. It’s not particularly original or well-acted, but it’s a lot of fun, as long as you don’t take it too seriously.  It tries to preach anti-violence but the story is really just an excuse for a lot of mixed martial arts mayhem set to hipster alt-rock music.  Never Back Down mixes older (and better) films into a blender and hits the mix button.  Every note of the film is predictable (training montage, geeky Emo kid being used as bait), but the film is enjoyable anyway.  Never Back Down looks good, its well-shot and a decent way to blow two hours.

Never Back Down is about a brooding loner named Jake Tyler (Tom Cruise clone, Sean Faris) who moves from the Midwest to Orlando with his Mom and tennis protege younger brother.  Jake has a troubled past and an anger problem.  He also falls for a pretty girl who is dating a bully/mixed martial arts expert named Ryan (sneering Cam Gigandet).  After Ryan humiliates Tyler, he seeks the help of a martial arts instructor (well played by Djimon Hounsou).  Many messages against violence come off as laughable as we see one bone-crunching mixed martial arts bout after the next.  The DVD looks and sounds terrific (lots of violent sound effects) and the 2 DVD “beatdown” edition has various featurettes that will appeal mostly to fans of mixed martial arts, a commentary, and two versions of the film.  The extended version adds a few minutes and is slightly more graphic than the PG-13 theatrical cut.

Never Back Down won’t change the world, but it’s not depressing or gruesome like some recent releases.  You get a decent villain and some well-staged fight scenes.  It’s a total guilty pleasure that is worth a rental, not really a purchase, unless you are already a big fan of the film.

Film Grade: C+

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