Never Back Down

Never Back Down
Never Back down

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jeff Wadlow
Produced by David Zelon
Bill Bannerman
Craig Baumgarten
Written by Chris Hauty
Starring Sean Faris
Djimon Hounsou
Amber Heard
Cam Gigandet
Evan Peters
Music by Tyler Barker
Cinematography Lukas Ettlin
Editing by Victor Du Bois
Debra Weinfeld
Distributed by Summit Entertainment
Release date(s) March 14, 2008 (2008-03-14)
Running time 115 minutes
Country Template:Film AUS
Language English
Budget $20 million[1]
Box office $41,627,431[1]

Never Back Down is a 2008 action film starring Sean Faris, Amber Heard, Cam Gigandet, and Djimon Hounsou. It was theatrically released on March 14, 2008. The film's respective 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 - all involving teens".



Jake Tyler (Sean Faris) has recently moved from Iowa to Orlando, Florida with his mom, Margot (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 a video of him on the Internet starting a fight in a football game, because one of his opponents made a rash comment about Jake's dead father, 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 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 defeated in the fight, 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 his mentor, 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 of Jake being unable to fight outside of the gym which Jake agrees to, though 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 then proceeds to end their relationship. Ryan begins to create a scene before the entire school but Jake steps in to defend Baja. After Ryan insults him again and leaves, Jake attends training with Roqua while still angry about the incident; Roqua asks Jake to leave to "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 in the process only annoying Ryan. 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 Brazil 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 this.

After being informed 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 and when Baja begs him not to, 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 leg. Jake makes it to the semifinals but was injured in the previous match after taking 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.



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, it was shot at East Ridge High School. The original title was "Get Some", but that title had sexual connotations that the producers didn't like so it was decided to change the title to "Never Back Down".

Screenwriter Chris Hauty wrote the film when his son showed him videos of various school fights posted on YouTube, as well as one that occurred in his school.


Box office

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.[1]

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.

Critical response

The film has received generally negative reviews; Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 23% based on 84 reviews.[2]

Home media

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.[3]


A sequel entitled Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown was released with actors Evan Peters, Alex Meraz and Jillian Murray, MMA fighter Scott Epstein, and Australian actor-singer Dean Geyer appearing in the film, with actor Michael Jai White starring and making his directorial debut.[4] It was released in August 2011.


  1. "Above and Below" - The Bravery
  2. "Anthem for the Underdog" - 12 Stones
  3. "Teenagers" - My Chemical Romance
  4. "Someday" - Flipsyde
  5. "Wolf Like Me" - TV on the Radio
  6. "Under the Knife" - Rise Against
  7. "Time Won't Let Me Go" - The Bravery
  8. "Rock Star" - Chamillionaire & Lil Wayne
  9. "Be Safe" - The Cribs
  10. "Headstrong" - Trapt
  11. "False Pretense" - The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
  12. "Orange Marmalade" - Mellowdrone
  13. "You Are Mine" - Mutemath
  14. "Stronger" - Kanye West
  15. "Crank That (Travis Barker Rock Remix)" - Soulja Boy Tell 'Em and Travis Barker
  16. "The Slam" - TobyMac
  17. "…To Be Loved" - Papa Roach (Featured during Theatrical Trailer)

The trance track played, when Ryan and his dad argue, is called "Estuera - 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 - Tiesto


External links

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