Never Back Down: Never Surrender doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel but Michael Jai White’s Case is one of his best characters yet and there are enough beatdowns to make this a satisfying watch.
Plot: Picking up after the events of Never Back Down 2, former MMA champion Case Walker is on the comeback trail to become champion once again.
Review: Never Back Down: Never Surrender is an entertaining throwback to the classic martial arts movies we would get every few weeks in the 90’s; in fact, it feels like a Kickboxer movie and that’s absolutely no bad thing.
This does mean that it lacks anything resembling originality but for Saturday night thrills you could do a lot worse.
Michael Jai White’s character Case Walker is the incorruptible hero who even when offered huge sums of money will not give up his principles. He’s a man of honour who carries a quiet nobility even when everyone else around him is frankly a total ass.
His friend Brody James (Josh Barnett) is an MMA star who has everything but still likes to party and even cheats on his wife. He asks Case to train him for a big fight in Thailand and Case reluctantly agrees. He witnesses firsthand what kind of man his friend really is, but a blossoming romance with (real life wife Gillian White) Myca Cruz and his loyalty to his friend keeps him there.
The trailer pretty much gave away how the story goes so there aren’t any surprises or massive twists. There are some nice touches of humour though which keeps things light and breezy. Tony Jaa’s cameo is brief but hilarious and you can tell they are good friends in real life.
There are some nicely done fight scenes and as entertaining as MJW is to watch on screen I think my favourite was actually between Brahim Achabbakhe and Jeeja Yanin. The fights never go on too long which I found more believable than a lot of movie scraps.
The final fight scene was a little anti-climactic and could have been a longer but it was well done and the choreography in general was fluid with no shaky cam to ruin things.
Nathan Jones is suitably nuts as the villain Braga despite not having all that much to do.
It’s well paced and MJW’s sheer likability as Case will have you rooting for him from beginning to end. Some of the supporting cast weren’t the greatest actors ever but they didn’t need to recite poetry; we’re all here to watch people being punched in the face and Never Back Down: Never Surrender delivers.
Overall, Never Back Down: Never Surrender doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel but Michael Jai White’s Case is one of his best characters yet and there are enough beatdowns to make this a satisfying watch. I would certainly come back for part 4.