Never Back Down: No Surrender (2016)

Posted in Reviews by - November 28, 2016
Never Back Down: No Surrender (2016)

The Never Back Down franchise just gets better and better under Michael Jai White’s direction. This sequel essentially does away with the teen movie themes outlined in the 2008 original – and only mildly observed in the 2011 sequel – and focuses instead on the commercialisation of MMA, which White argues has been overrun by banned substances and unscrupulous promoters. White returns as Case Walker, the ex-con hobo who is built like a tank, who turns heads in a Thai gym when he starts performing his Shotokan karate kata, using scrap material as work out props and drawing on the walls. The younger jocks in their designer gym-wear call him “old school” and, as a provocation, “Blackie Chan”. The arrogance of the next generation of MMA fighters is shown to be another indictment on a sport which has lost its discipline and philosophical roots. Case resists the multi-million dollar offers from an organisation calling itself the PFC (a clear cipher for the UFC), instead preferring to remain in the shadows as a mentor to his buddy Brody (Josh Barnett), who is scheduled to take on steroid-headed giant slayer Nathan Jones in a Bangkok cage fight. White is not only an incredibly likable and engaging screen presence – sporting great charisma and physicality – but he also shows himself to be a moral and principled filmmaker. His characters may be broad but his message is noble, and this positive ethos carries the film. There’s also a couple of really good gags, a genuinely sweet romance between Case and the PR lady, Myca (played by Michael Jai White’s real-life spouse, Gillian White), and a funny if somewhat random cameo from White’s Skin Trade co-starĀ Tony Jaa.

AKA: The Fighters 3: No Surrender; Never Back Down 3.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

1 Comment

  • Any film that features cameos by both Tony Jaa and Jeeja Yanin and bravely takes shots at the commercializing of MMA,the UFC,and Dana White(alongside his boy/stooge Joe Rogan and bullying referee Big John McCarthy) truly sounds like a Must See.

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