Never Back Down (2008)

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Released 20-Aug-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Fight Training
Deleted Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 113:23
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (92:51) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jeff Wadlow
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Sean Faris
Amber Heard
Cam Gigandet
Evan Peters
Leslie Hope
Djimon Hounsou
Case ?
RPI ? Music Michael Wandmacher


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Pepsi, anyone?
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Jake Tyler (Sean Faris) is an angry young high school football player who blames himself for the recent DUI related death of his father. Jake frequently lets this sense of guilt spill out as violent outbursts, both on and off the field. It seems as though it is for the best when his mother (Leslie Hope) moves their family from Iowa to Florida to both provide a new start for the family and allow Jake's younger brother Charlie to attend an exclusive tennis academy. Unfortunately for Jake, all his new classmates have seen Youtube footage of his football fights and they are keen to involve him in the secretly organised mixed martial arts street fighting circuit that goes on among the kids. Looking for a clean start in his new town, Jake doesn't want in

    Tricked into attending a house party by sexy female love-interest Baja Miller (Amber Heard), Jake is taunted into a fight with local champion Ryan McCarthy (Cam Gigandet). After taking a comprehensive beating, a new found friend convinces Jake to seek training with local fight guru Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou). Roqua agrees to the training on the condition that Jake never fight outside of the gym. Unfortunately, this rules Jake out of the upcoming secret fight tournament "Beatdown". Excessive moody montages ensue as Jake sort out this tangled plot line in order to salvage his pride and honour.

    Never Back Down is basically a broody teen movie that borrows excessively from all manner of teen drama from the last 30 years. It is pretty much Flashdance, Save The Last Dance, Take The Lead, Step Up, Step Up 2: The Streets all over again, only mixed martial arts and UFC style brawling is subbed in for the dancing. Still can't picture it? Think an "edgy" modern version of The Karate Kid. Like many of the movies it borrows stem cells from, the story and acting is utter rubbish but the movie is surprisingly watchable thanks to entertaining action pieces. The script, in particular, is a shocker in this instance, repeatedly subbing in emo montages for what should have been plot and character development scenes.

    Never Back Down certainly isn't a total write-off, but this sort of moody schlock is unlikely to register as more than passable entertainment on a rainy night for most viewers.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video looks a little flat, but is generally decent.

    The focal image is generally quite sharp, but backgrounds are often a little on the soft side. There is a decent level of shadow detail. Mild grain is present in the image, though it is not distracting.

    The colours are quite pale and look a little washed out. This appears to have been a deliberate look that the film has gone for, rather than a fault of the transfer, though it's not a very striking one.

    Moderate edge enhancement is noticeable in the transfer, which will almost certainly irk anyone that notices this sort of artefact. The video is otherwise free of video nasties and film artefacts.

    English subtitles for the hearing impaired are present for the feature. They appear to be accurate and reasonably well-timed.

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer breaks occurs at 92:51 but was not noticeable on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kbps) audio tracks are present for the film.

    The dialogue is clear but quite soft in the mix and is frequently drowned out by the music in the film. There are no sync issue between audio and video.

    The music in the film mostly consists of moody emo rock and frequently plays out more like a music video than a film score.

    The surrounds get a reasonable workout throughout the film, using both a good raft of environmental effects and thuds to create an immersive sound field. The subwoofer use is a bit over-the-top, which suits the wannabe "edgy" tone of the film but frequently drowns out the rest of the sound field - dialogue included.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Animation & Audio

    The disc opens with an irritating unskippable anti-piracy trailer followed by trailers for Semi-Pro, Feel The Noise and Superhero Movie.

Feature Introduction

    Director Jeff Wadlow provides a brief introduction to proudly tell us that this is the "Beat Down" edition of the film, featuring "edgier" fight scenes and "pumped-up" bass in the action scenes. Hooray. Next time they might want to pump the dialogue up to a level that doesn't let it get drowned out by all maxed out effects.

Audio Commentary

    A commentary with the writer (Chris Hauty), the director (Jeff Wadlow) and star Sean Faris. The commentary is fairly serious in tone and talks up how authentic the emo-broody guff and edgy fights are. Take this one with a grain of salt.

Deleted Scenes (13:24)

    A series of deleted scenes with introductions from the director. Rather than whole scenes, this is mostly a collections of extended scenes including leading and trailing bits of the film to provide a bit more context. Reasonably interesting stuff.

Making Of Featurette (10:14)

    An irksome press-kit style "Making Of" featurette that does more to advertise the film than discuss its production. Basically it is 10 minutes of the cast and crew telling us how sincere their intentions were in producing the film. Here's a question for DVD producers - if someone has already bought the disc, why do they need an extended advert for it?

How To Fight Like A Champ with Bas Rutten Featurette (36:16)

    An excellent featurette that captures each of the film's actors in the gym with fight trainer Bas Rutten learning how to adapt their natural fighting instincts into more effective mixed martial arts. This is a genuinely interesting featurette that will really appeal to anyone enticed by the film's mixed martial arts premise.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Two editions are available in Region 1, one containing the original cut of the film only and the other containing 2 discs - one featuring the original cut of the film and the other featuring the "Beat Down" cut (which is the version present on the Region 4 edition). The 2-disc version features many of the same extras as the local edition, but includes a Trailer and two featurettes not found on the local release; an Alternate Angle option on several fight scenes and a blow-by-blow discussion of the film's fight scenes with the fight choreographer. The Region 1 edition appears to miss out on the Making Of and How To Fight Like A Champ with Bas Rutten featurettes, however. It is a situation that will probably leave any die-hard fans wanting versions from both regions (although I suspect there won't be many). For most viewers there will be little reason to shop internationally unless they find it on sale.

Summary

    A clunky teen drama that focuses on mixed martial arts, rather than dance for a change! Mildly entertaining stuff, but not worth repeat viewing.

    The video is decent, though not flawless. The audio features an over-the-top mix that often drowns dialogue with big effects. The disc features a solid swag of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX2016AVS. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, 100W centre and 4 surround/rear speakers, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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