The Never Back Down franchise has grown right into a beloved martial arts movie series, however how do the films rank? With the recognition of MMA, the Never Back Down franchise first kicked off in 2008, however whereas the unique has its virtues, notably in Djimon Hounsou’s MMA mentor efficiency, it did not actually set the cinema screens on hearth on the time. Since then, the Never Back Down sequence has adopted an analogous path because the Undisputed franchise in actually breaking out with its straight-to-video sequel Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown underneath the course of Michael Jai White.

Though Chris Hauty has returned as screenwriter for every installment of the sequence, the Never Back Down films have been one thing of a loosely tied-together martial arts anthology, with a handful of parts and characters persevering with from one film to the following as every tells its personal story. The fourth movie within the sequence Never Back Down: Revolt, particularly, takes the sequence in a pointy new course with filmmaker Kellie Madison directing because the sequence transitions to new territory.


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True to its title, the Never Back Down franchise is an energized MMA sequence that is all the time prepared for the following Beatdown, as its grand competitors of fighters is dubbed. Grabbing some real-life MMA fighters for cameos and supporting roles alongside the way in which, the franchise is aware of what its viewers is hungry for, and has solely gotten higher and higher at delivering it to them. Revolt additionally units up the martial arts movie franchise to proceed down a brand new street in Never Back Down 5, with the sequence having the liberty now to leap into extra life-and-death tales with its MMA basis all the time at its core. Here’s how the Never Back Down sequence ranks, from worst to finest.

4. Never Back Down

Never Back Down image pic

The first chapter of the sequence, 2008’s Never Back Down, focuses on Jake Tyler (Sean Faris), a hot-tempered child who discovers an area MMA health club run by Jean Roqua, performed by Djimon Hounsou, and finds an outlet to harness his anger points. Never Back Down is arguably extra pleasurable for its coaching montages over its martial arts fight scenes, the latter usually resembling MTV music movies shot on cell telephones, whereas the coaching facet of the movie exhibits Jake’s development and the gradual management he beneficial properties over his anger. The finest montage set to Red Jump Suit Apparatus’ “False Pretense.” If one is sufficiently old, Never Back Down is frankly a little bit chilling in components, with the youngsters relishing the possibility to humiliate one another with their cellphone cameras. Evan Peters balances a few of that out as Jake’s buddy Max Cooperman, an MMA fanatic who introduces Jake to Roqua’s health club and brings alongside a number of the attraction of his portrayal of Quicksilver.

Djimon Hounsou is well the spotlight of the entire film because the sage-like Roqua, emphatically insisting that his college students not battle outdoors of the health club, offering Jake simply the steerage that the younger unfastened canon wants, and embodying a real instance of a consummate blended martial artist, heaving cinder blocks and kicking heavy baggage a number of ft with ease. Some of his knowledge within the health club is prominently glimpsed at occasions within the motion scenes, reminiscent of a three-punch roundhouse-kick mixture he takes Jake by means of early within the movie, and the emphasis he locations on controlling one’s respiration. However, the decently orchestrated battle scenes are nonetheless extra uncooked and uneven than crucial. Never Back Down is not the best MMA film on the market, however it has its moments, and Hounsou’s mentor efficiency makes it value a glance.

3. Never Back Down: Revolt

Never Back Down Revolt Women

With Never Back Down: Revolt, the Never Back Down franchise follows the trajectory of the Best of the Best series, getting into darker and deadlier territory with its fourth chapter. After aspiring MMA fighter Aslan (Tommy Bastow) refuses to throw a battle, he places himself and his sister Anya (Olivia Popica) in scorching water and deep debt. Anya’s personal combating ability impresses battle promoter Mariah (Brooke Johnston), and earns her a spot in a match in Rome with the promise of wiping the debt clear. Unfortunately, Anya discovers on her arrival that it’s really an underground competitors the place younger girls are kidnapped and compelled to battle for betting millionaires. As essentially the most standalone entry within the Never Back Down sequence, Revolt does job of setting the stakes excessive because it ventures right into a story akin to the Bloodsport underground tournament franchise, particularly on its low price range and the pandemic era-challenges director Kellie Madison needed to coordinate the movie by means of. Revolt feels directly the identical and completely different from its three predecessors. While missing the rock music-filled coaching montages and paced with fewer motion scenes for its first two-thirds, Revolt additionally has a becoming sinister really feel in its descent into the darkish underbelly of the underground combating world.

Former UFC champ Michael Bisping is the villainous spotlight of Revolt, bringing monstrous sadism to each scene, and with Johnston’s extra sly sinister overseer of the match, each are antagonists whose comeuppance is eagerly anticipated by audiences. The MMA fights in Revolt, orchestrated by Tim Man and John Wick franchise alum Cecep Arif Rahman (who appeared reverse Amy Johnston in Madison’s proof-of-concept brief The Gate), are fittingly harsh, although a few of solid members being rookies is clear at factors. Still, Madison is aware of construct to a quick and highly effective third act because the imprisoned fighters plot their revolt towards their captors. Never Back Down: Revolt is a little bit bit smaller of a narrative than its title would possibly recommend, however it’s an entertaining underground battle flick that units up the franchise to proceed in a brand new course. Martial arts followers also needs to be careful for stuntwoman Chloe Bruce, who snags the film’s finest one-on-one battle with Phoebe Robinson-Galvin.

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2. Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown

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In the ’90s, “straight-to-video sequel” would possibly’ve been a time period synonymous with “kiss of death.” By 2011 nevertheless, at the least in the case of motion films, such a transition had begun to look extra like an improve, and Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, the directorial debut of martial arts movie veteran Michael Jai White, is actually a shining instance of that. The Beatdown focuses on 4 younger males, respectively portrayed by Dean Geyer, Alexa Meraz, and real-life MMA fighters Todd Duffee and Scott Epstein (their fellow MMA fighter Lyoto Machida additionally drops in for a cameo), coaching underneath the tutelage of former MMA champ Case Walker, performed by White, who additionally made his directorial debut with the movie. The returning Evan Peters units up connective tissue with the primary film because the all the time energetic Max, whereas the movie absolutely invests the viewer within the every of the 4 most important college students’ tales. Case’s personal historical past can also be a central pillar to the movie as each a one-time rising star in the MMA world and a former prisoner making an attempt to observe the foundations of his parole. While particulars of his previous are saved extra within the background, the movie makes clear that his most important aim is solely to begin his life over, his efforts frequently exploited by some racist cops.

In each its coaching and battle sequences, The Beatdown absolutely surpasses its predecessor. Case particularly constructs every pupil’s coaching round their weak factors, and his instruction to Dean Geyer’s Mike Stokes to punch a sheet of paper till he can puncture it together with his knuckles is an ongoing problem that the movie pays off marvelously on the finish. The motion scenes, orchestrated by Larnell Stovall, are additionally excellent, particularly when the Beatdown lastly arrives and the information every of Case’s college students has gained comes into play. Though primarily a mentor, Case would not sit on the sidelines both, seen in a set-piece right out of a Jackie Chan movie with Case combating off the aforementioned dangerous cops with each fingers cuffed after being framed for a parole violation. Not in contrast to White’s earlier involvement in Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing, Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown is the purpose the place the MMA-centric franchise actually took off, additionally establishing a brand new coaching montage traditional with For The Taking’s “Time Is Running Out” alongside the way in which in its stand-out pre-Beatdown montage.

1. Never Back Down: No Surrender

Never Back Down No Surrender pic

Following The Beatdown, Case Walker has made a full return to the MMA world in Never Back Down: No Surrender. The third movie within the franchise sees Case agrees to journey to Thailand to assist his outdated buddy Brody James, performed by real-life MMA fighter Josh Barnett, prepare for an upcoming battle towards the cruel Ceasar Braga, performed by Nathan Jones, well-known as Rictus Erectus, the son of Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road. Like a devoted pupil rising by means of the ranks of martial arts, the Never Back Down sequence reaches its stride with No Surrender. White as soon as once more directs, and the highlight is far more centered on Case this time, however he nonetheless features as a mentor in his personal story, and never only for the wayward Brody in his initially lax angle in the direction of the battle with Braga. Case additionally constantly passes his knowledge on to his fellow fighters, together with some he faces within the ring, taking them apart after matches to provides them pointers, whereas different fighters within the Bangkok health club swiftly come to acknowledge his Mr. Miyagi-level martial arts wisdom. Though Case’s previous, together with his time in jail, is generally nonetheless saved within the background, No Surrender additionally pulls again the curtain only a bit on it in his scenes with the battle promotion’s PR director Myca Cruz, performed by White’s real-life spouse Gillian White. Case additionally nonetheless hasn’t misplaced his pure no-nonsense mindset, seen when he swiftly admonishes a pair of youthful fighters applauding his punching approach to “stop that s–t!

No Surrender goes into even higher depth in each its motion and coaching scenes, merging each in the most effective motion scenes of the entire sequence when Case faces a cocky opponent within the cage, with flashes of Karate “bunkai,” adopted by Case implementing every approach for actual. Being filmed and set in Thailand, the country’s national legend Tony Jaa cameos in No Surrender as himself, whereas the movie additionally pulls in each Chocolate‘s Jeeja Yanin as feminine health club fighter, with Stephen “The Fight Professor” Quadros additionally showing as one of many health club’s trainers, Matty Ramos. The behind-the-scenes machinations for Brody’s battle with Braga finally pulls in Case when his previous is dug into, however being the mental fighter that he’s, Case exhibits that two can play at that recreation, with the film’s glorious remaining showdown between Case and Braga preceded by what could be one of the penetrating and satisfying one-liner/insult combos in a long time. With unbelievable motion and coaching scenes, Michael Jai White’s on-screen strengths that he brings to each the director’s chair and the position of Case Walker, and the sharpest writing of the franchise up to now, Never Back Down: No Surrender is each the top of the Never Back Down sequence and the embodiment of its subtitle. With the franchise now having launched larger stakes than ever with Never Back Down: Revolt, one can solely surprise the way it will proceed to construct upon that. Nonetheless, the Never Back Down sequence will certainly stay fashionable with martial arts film followers, and Never Back Down: Surrender carries the crown of its finest installment.

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