Film reviews

Never Back Down, Dir. Jeff Wadlow, Cert; 15 (Opens 4th April)

If, like me, you saw the trailers for this movie and thought “This is quite possibly going to be the worst movie ever made”, you’re probably not going to bother to pay to see it. I’m probably unlikely to be able to convince you either, as you no doubt have already labelled it as “The Fast and the Furious” ripping off “Fight Club”. They even made the bad guy look like Brad Pitt at the beginning for Heaven’s sake. This was not boding well for me, it has to be said.

What you actually get, however, is an entertaining – if predictable – two hours of adrenaline coupled with some surprisingly well developed, likeable characters.

Sean Faris plays Jake Tyler, a high school teen with a history of fighting, who is immersed in a new world when his family moves to a new area. Opting to keep his nose clean, Jake avoids confrontation as much as he can but stumbles upon an underground fight club upon walking through the school grounds.

Coaxed to a party by the gorgeous Baja Miller (Amber Heard) where a large party which is teeming with scantily clad girls (I clearly went to the wrong parties when I was a teenager!), the school jock Ryan McCarthy (played by the menacing Cam Gigandel) proceeds to give him the hiding of his life.

Ruffled, Jake enlists the help of martial arts virtuoso Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou), who tells him that if he hears of any “off limits fighting”, he will be out of the class and never able to train with him again.

The rest of the story is admittedly standard and, for the most part, consummately predictable; but the film never seems to drag and Hounsou gives a spirited performance as Tyler’s mentor right up to the climactic no holds barred knockout tournament, which features one twist at least.

In short, it’s easy to dismiss this as brainless claptrap, but if you’re in a non-thinking kind of mood and you’re after entertainment, I can assure you that “Never Back Down” IS actually worth watching. And this from someone who generally hates martial arts flicks! 7/10
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