Never Back Down (2008): Breakdown by Rantbo
Two shirtless boy-whores reenact KARATE KID with modern day MMA fighting moves. ‘Cuz karate didn’t get them sweaty enough.
Contrary to what the title may have you believe, this movie isn’t about an escalating series of frat-house dares. “OK, dude–Bobby’s passed out, I dare you to stick your dick in his mouth!” “Come on Man–NEVER BACK DOWN!” Nope. That would have been way less gay. This movie is a re-make of the classic 80s genre of ‘From Zero-to-Hero Via Martial Arts’ film. With a twist. The zero in this picture is actually a football stud with crazy good looks and brains to boot. He’s essentially Tom Cruise in ALL THE RIGHT MOVES. And by essentially, I mean a fucking clone; in looks, voice and letterman’s jacket.
First day of school, Young Tom Cruise (the Daniel Larusso) catches the eye of another stunningly good-looking young man. Let’s call him, Young Paul Walker (the Johnny Lawrence) . Together they form a sexually heated tiff over–a girl, hmm. Let’s call her Thin Scarlett Johansson (the whatever Elisabeth Shue’s name was in KARATE KID). And in order to beat the bully, YTC must seek out morally wise ethnic trainer, Djimon Hounsou (the Miyagi). The rest of the film is one long sweaty montage to shitty emo complaint rock and crunk “music”, after another, until the final beat down. So if you ever wondered who would win in a fight between Tom and Paul, this film is for you. And I for one, happened to like it.
So, the story is recycled from K.KID and NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER, with the fight club portion of FIGHT CLUB mixed in. The music is fucking terrible, FUCKING TERRIBLE. And the characters are laughable inspirational 80s stock leftovers–But I still dug it. The fights are a hundred times better than anything featured in this sub-genres siblings. And what can I say? I’m a sucker for watching pretty people beating the shit outta one-another and pretending like the crap they are fighting over really means anything.
One other thing that bears mentioning–while this is a 80s re-imagining, they still took several liberties against believability that most Brat-Pack flicks wouldn’t even mess with. Namely, using a cast WELL out of COLLEGE to play High School students.
At the time of the release.
Young Tom Cruise (Sean Faris) = 26
Young Paul Walker (Cam Gigandet) = 26
Thin Scarlett Johansson (Amber Heard) = 22
Jack Osbourne (Evan Peters) = 21
Paul Walkers Entourage:
Neil Brown Jr. = 28
Lauren Leech = 22
Tilky Jones = 27… and so on.
Plus, I don’t know too many 17yr/olds with multiple tattoos. Then again, I didn’t grow up in Southern California or wherever the fuck this was filmed at. Florida, I think… Fuck it, who cares?
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Sean Faris is Jake Tyler is Young Tom Cruise
Well, he does win the end fight, which is pretty badass, so that has to count for something. But other than that, YTC spends most of the film whining like a little girl. Plus his daddy-issues and overly sensitive disposition to high school drama made it hard for me to root for him through most of the picture. He does kick the shit out of 3 assholes–in a hummer (redundant), for no other reason than that they were 3 assholes in a hummer. But that’s reason enough for any ass kicking, and Tommy handled it with a good deal of entertainment. Plus, it took Old Tom Cruise almost 20 years to become bad-ass with the MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE series, so I guess this kid just needs some time.
[THE BODY COUNT: 01]
Young Tom Cruise’s father dies in the backstory, but it wasn’t in a fight. It’s in a car crash. Lame. Plus, you never get to see it. Double Lame. The fact that YTC could have stopped his daddy from wrapping himself around a tree, becomes the driving force behind all his whiny angst. And when anyone mentions it, it’s exactly like Marty McFly in BACK TO THE FUTURE II & III when he gets called a chicken. Blind rage doesn’t make up for a sizable body count, no matter how unintentionally funny it is. But, to be fair, this isn’t one of those movies.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING]
Big surprise, gotta go with the finale. But these films are designed to build up to that moment, so while there are other fun fights along the path to the credits, they truly did save the best for last. YTC and YPW have an all out grudge match in the parking lot of a disco and it’s pretty fucking brutal–for a PG-13 rating that is. Plenty of punching, kicking, cheap-shots and body slams. It never comes close to a LIONHEART level of awesomeness, but it does deliver a satisfactory cap to an OK fighting movie.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Holy shit. Dudesweat has never been a more appropriate opener for this section. Let me put it this way, if a bucket of sweat were a gay man, this movie would be pride parade. Gallons! FUCKING GALLONS! If there is a scene that doesn’t involve at least one sweat-stained boy-toy, it was left on the cutting-room floor. And Djimon Hounsou–Jesus, this man is never not pouring. He’s like a walking Gatoraid commercial. A real gusher. It’s kind of gross, actually.
The plot of this movie is based entirely on the fact the Young Paul Walker wants to fuck Young Tom Cruise and Young Tom Cruise is trying to escape his homosexual urges to give in to Young Paul Walker’s advances. When two guys want to tussle this badly, there HAS to be an unspoken fantasy in there somewhere and these two hide it about as well as Clay Aiken did.
YPW: “I saw the clip–You can bang, dude.”
YTC: “ You know what they say about the internet…”
…What? That it’s the number one source for amateur gay porn? I concur.
Young Tom Cruise almost escapes the gay by hanging out with Thin Scarlett Johansson, but then Young Paul Walker fucks Young Tom Cruise’s platonic pal Jack Osbourne with his fists and it’s on like Donkey Schlong.
Which brings me to Jack Osbourne. This little muppet is textbook closet. He spends all his time either talking about fighting other guys, filming other guys fighting, or actually trying to fight other guys. And when talking to the ladies he gets overzealous and overly-acts cool, as if trying to fail. And he seems to only do it while hanging out with Young Tom Cruise. Plus, he drives a muscle car.
And if you get the Unrated “Beat-Down” edition of the DVD or Blu-Ray, the ladies can see some action also. There is an extended scene featuring two late-twenty something “teenagers” rubbing nips and kissing in a bubble bath at one of the rich kid parties. It’s pretty tame, but I guess some soft-core lezbo fans could flick the bean to this scene. Enjoy, DJs.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
The film doesn’t showcase much misogyny or exploitation, other than the lesbo skanks I mentioned above, so I guess I’ll have to write some of my own.
Thin Scarlett Johansson. Lets talk about her. She’s gorgeous (if you’re into blondes, I’m not). She’s rich. AND she’s a closeted brain. And she’s perturbed because she just doesn’t know how to cope with being both smart AND popular. Cry me a river. Fuck her–she sucks.
What else, Oh yeah! YTC’s mom. Well, she is such a–MOM. Arghhhh. Take every 80s mom and mix them into one stereotypical overprotective widowed bitch and you get Mrs. Cruise.
There is this one scene that made me laugh/get a boner, though. Young Tom Cruise is secretly prepping for his forbidden fight with Young Paul Walker when Mom comes into his room.
Mom: “I was wonderi…”
[See’s his fighting gear]
YTC: “I–don’t want to lie about this…”
[The shot pans down to show his duffel bag, but that camera is centered on his crotch]
Mom: [softly bites her bottom lip and whispers] “I’m not going to ask you to.”
Holy Cats! I soooo thought that at that moment she was going to cross the room and start making out with him. I seriously did. Maybe I’m just a perv, and I admit that, but that shit would have been so awesome/nasty/disturbing/hot. Honestly, had I made this film, the perfect ending would have been Young Tom Cruise fucks his mom, grabs his dead father’s revolver, walks to the Beat-Down naked, puts two bullets in Young Paul Walker’s Head, then a third in his own, cherry-pie spays all over his girlfriend’s face as she stares unblinking in horror. Credits.
And this is why I don’t make movies. America just isn’t ready for my brand of disturbing genius.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
I really like the first time the main bros fight at the hipster party. Young Tom Cruise gets his ass handed to him with a side of ax-body spray and the final blow was a thing of beauty.
As for the line. Gonna have to go with Mom’s final words. “I’m not going to ask you to.” Mmm, so disturbingly sexy!
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
If you’re in a High School filled with gorgeous people in their late twenties and the hottest guy wants to gorilla-fuck you–It’s gonna happen, so best get training to give as good as you get. Never back down!
[THE CHECKLIST: 14 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Giant Explosion(s)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[ ] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[ ] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
*The Club at the end is essentially a warehouse with disco lights.