Never Back Down Review
Event Synopsis and Theme
1. The film opens in the middle of a high-school football game, with Jake Tyler helping his team to win. Frustrated, one of the players from the opposing team taunts him about the death of his father from drunk driving. Known for his hot temper, Jake immediately begins a brawl with the opposing player. The brawl is captured on the crowd's mobile phones and personal video cameras, and soon is downloaded to the internet. This is in fact the last game Jake will play at this high school as he and his family is moving to Orlando, Florida. His younger brother, Charlie (Wyatt Smith), has received a tennis scholarship at a school there. His mother (Leslie Hope) is upset that Jake often seems to be fighting and getting into trouble, but despite this, Jake and Charlie are close. At his new school, Jake has a hard time fitting in. He catches the eye of a pretty classmate named Baja Miller (Amber Heard) who seems to flirt with him. Later, he spots a fight going on campus where he sees a young man getting beaten. Although this is actually a street kickboxing match, Jake mistakes this as bullying, and attempts to defend the man. He is surprised when everyone, including the young man, tells Jake to leave. In school the next day, the young man introduces himself to Jake as Max Cooperman (Evan Peters). He tells Jake that there are videos on the internet of Jake's football brawl, gaining him a positive reputation on campus. He offers Jake a chance to learn mixed martial arts with his teacher, but Jake declines. Baja comes by and invites him to a party. At the party, held at a mansion, he meets the host, Ryan McCarthy (Cam Gigandet), who has seen the internet footage, challenges Jake to a fight, supposedly to see how good of a brawler he really is. When Jake refuses, Ryan realizes he came to the party because Baja invited him. He then kisses Baja in front of him to let him know that she is his girlfriend. Knowing that he was apparently set up for a fight, Jake attempts to leave, but when Ryan taunts him about the death of his father, Jake accepts the challenge. He loses badly, Ryan brutally beating him. Baja appears disgusted at Ryan as a result of the fight. The day after, Max comes to Jake's house, and again pleads with him to learn from his teacher, a Mixed Martial Arts fighter Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou). Jake goes to Roqua's gym and meets Max there. Roqua, sensing that Jake isn't there for the right reasons, allows Jake to train with him, in class and personally before classes, on the condition that he does not fight outside the gym. Jake notices that Roqua apparently lives in the gym. Baja also comes by Jake, apologizing for setting him up for a fight, but she also points out he wanted that fight, he just didn't want to lose." Jake does not accept the apology. Later, Baja tells Ryan their relationship is over as he is only happy when he's hurting people. Ryan grabs her, but Jake intervenes. To save face, Ryan again taunts Jake about his father. Later, back in the gym, Roqua sees that Jake is too angry to be training. He tells Jake to go home and cool off, and Jake replies, "At least I have a home". On the ride back home in Max's car, angry images flash through Jake's mind, and we see how his father died: one night, after drinking too much, Jake's father insisted on driving, and Jake allowed him to. When stopped at a stop sign Jake gets into a fight with what appears to be three gang members from the car behind. He easily defeats all three of them and Max catches it all on video. Like the football video before, this makes Jake popular again with his classmates. However, Ryan, confronting Jake alone later, tells him that he is still nothing and will beat him at The Beat down- a local underground fight tournament. When Jake goes back to the gym the next day, Roqua notices the bruises on his hands and demands that he leaves and never comes back. Max and Jake follow Roqua grocery shopping...
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