Never Back Down: No Surrender    

                                       review by Bobby Blakey

There are movies that you would never expect to end up a franchise and even more so that the follow up entries are actually better films. When 2008s Never Back Down debuted it had a small following but was far from a standout action flick outside of some decent fights and the YouTube clips that have lived on. In 2011 Michael Jai White took over the franchise as both star and director with Never Back Down: The Beatdown that had Evan Peters return from the first film. Now White is back in both roles once again for the latest chapter Never Back Down: No Surrender, but does it offer up more of the same action or is it finally time to back down?

Never Back Down: No Surrender follows former MMA champion Case Walker is on the comeback trail to become champion once again who agrees to train friend and fellow fighter Brody James for the match of a lifetime in Thailand. Outside of White the film stars UFC’s Josh Barnett, Gillian White, Esai Morales, and Nathan Jones as well as a couple of really awesome guest appearances for martial arts fans. Fans going into this movie know what they are in for and you get just that. The story is pretty simple, but does a great job continuing Walker’s journey without forcing you to relive the same thing from the previous film. I really love that this film brings the focus of traditional martial arts to the MMA world without trying to bash either. Some of the best moments of the film is watching White teach or discuss the proper mentalities of ways of executing techniques. As a martial arts instructor myself hearing some of the similar things that I tell my students makes me connect with the film in a different way than others. As usual White is great and has really done a good job with the story and directing duties taking an average series and making them better every time.

 

Going into a film like this you know the expectation is getting some great martial arts action and it does not disappoint. With White involved you know you are in for some good martial arts action and he does not disappoint. Here though it isn’t just about the constant moments to force in a fight scene, but plenty of training sequences. These are the more powerful moments of the film to showcase the importance of tradition and knowledge in the martial arts. This is something that White clearly holds dear and I applaud him for putting it into this film. Have no fear there are still plenty of fights still and each of them delivers something great to watch with skill and well done choreography and execution.

Fans of the series will no doubt enjoy this one as well and hopefully it does well enough to warrant White’s return to the series once again for another entry. There are a couple of cameos that were teased in the trailers, but if you haven’t watched them hold off and let them surprise you. They are fun to watch and will no doubt put a smile on any martial arts fans face.

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