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Never Back Down: The Karate Kid for the 00s

posted Jul 31, 2008, 5:07 PM by Vu Nguyen   [ updated Aug 1, 2008, 7:24 AM ]


I'm sitting here on the couch, watching Never Back Down for the second time with the director, screenwriter, and main actor on commentary... so basically not really paying that much attention to the movie.

I will admit to actually enjoying this film the first time I saw it, which, if you break it down, is a pretty simple story.  It tells the story of Jake, who moves to a new school and got his butt kicked by a rich and popular Ryan at a party.  Hilmilated, Jake was determined to learn how to fight with help and training from a homeless gym owner Roqua.

Basically at the end, Jake enters to a fighting competition called The Beatdown, just to get into the ring with Ryan. I won't go into details, but at the end of the film, there is a big throw-down.

If this plot sounds familiar, it seems like the classic original Karate Kid movie, doesn't it?  Never Back Down has its audience (young, high school teenagers), and it seems the fighting is more realistic (a mix of street fighting brawl and pseudo martial arts).  There are some scenes which I never bought that Ryan was in pain/in any danger, despite the version that I saw is the newly "Beat Down" edition, featuring more bones crackling and punches.

What I didn't care for was the love story between Jake and Baja, I know it's a teenage-film, but it just seems to me that all movies made have some sort of underlying love story.  You can have a great movie without the love-bits, you know.

I thought Roqua was an interesting character, complete with a background story - but he's really underused in this film.  You only see him in the gym, training, etc.  I would've love to see him in at least one fight sequence (not training) to really show off the teacher's moves.

This was a pretty enjoyable movie to watch with fight-fans, but it's easily forgotten in the pile of many Asian-fighting movies (which I will cover soon).