Never Back Down (2008)

Never Back Down 2008tt1023111.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Never Back Down (2008)
  • Rate: 6.3/10 total 36,375 votes 
  • Genre: Action | Drama | Sport
  • Release Date: 14 March 2008 (USA)
  • Runtime: 110 min
  • Filming Location: Clermont, Florida, USA
  • Budget: $20,000,000(estimated)
  • Gross: $24,850,922(USA)(5 June 2008)
  • Director: Jeff Wadlow
  • Stars: Sean Faris, Djimon Hounsou and Amber Heard
  • Original Music By: Michael Wandmacher   
  • Soundtrack: Rock Star
  • Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS
  • Plot Keyword: Fight | Club | Mixed Martial Arts | High School | Teen

Writing Credits By:

  • Chris Hauty (written by)

Known Trivia

  • Sean Faris gained 15 lbs. of muscle for his role.

Goofs: Continuity: When Jake goes to the gym after sticking up for Baja in the parking lot, he throws a kick to Roqua's head while he trains him, in which Roqua has to duck. Later in the movie, when he's training, it shows that he cannot kick that high.

Plot: At his new high school, a rebellious teen is lured into an underground fight club, where he finds a mentor in a mixed martial arts veteran. Full summary »  »

Story: At his new high school, a rebellious teen Jake Tyler is lured into an ultimate underground fighting club in a Backyard Fight, where he finds a mentor in a mixed martial arts veteran. After receiving threats to the safety of his friends and family, Jake seeks the mentoring of a veteran fighter, to train his mind and body for one final no-holds-barred elimination fight with his unrelenting personal nemesis and local martial arts champion Ryan McCarthy.Written by Anthony Pereyra {}  


Synopsis: Jake Tyler (Sean Faris) helps his high-school football team win an important game. A frustrated player from the opposing team makes taunts about Jake’s father, who died while driving drunk. Infamously-hot-tempered Jake starts a brawl with the opposing player. Spectators capture the brawl with mobile phones and video-cameras. Soon, the brawl is uploaded to YouTube.

Jake gets thrown off the team for brawling, but takes it in stride because he is leaving this school anyway. He and his younger brother Charlie (Wyatt Henry Smith) are moving with their widowed mom to Orlando, Florida where Charlie has received a tennis scholarship. The Tyler brothers are close despite Jake’s penchant for fighting and getting into trouble, which greatly upsets their mom (Leslie Hope).

At his new school, Jake has a hard time fitting in. He catches the eye of Baja Miller (Amber Heard), a pretty classmate who flirts with him. Later, Jake notices fellow student Max Cooperman (Evan Peters) getting beaten up on campus. Jake rushes to Max’s aid, only to discover that the "bullying" he disrupted was actually a street-kickboxing match. Everybody present, including Max, demands that the astonished Jake leave.

At school the next day, Max lets it be known that there are videos on the internet of Jake’s football brawl, which has gained him a positive reputation on campus. Max invites Jake to come and learn mixed martial arts with his instructor, while Baja invites Jake to a party at her boyfriend Ryan McCarthy’s mansion. Jake declines the former offer but accepts the latter. At McCarthy Manor that night, host Ryan (Cam Gigandet) – having seen the internet footage – challenges Jake to demonstrate his brawling prowess in a fight against…Ryan himself. When Jake refuses the challenge, letting Ryan know that Jake came to the party only because Baja invited him. Ryan kisses Baja in front of Jake to verify whose girlfriend she is. Jake realizes that he’s being set up, and attempts to leave – until Ryan makes taunts about the disgraceful death of Jake’s dad. An angry Jake accepts the challenge but is brutally defeated by Ryan. Baja appears disgusted with Ryan for continually beating on Jake, despite the fact that Jake was obviously down and out.

A day later, Max comes to Jake’s house, and repeats the invitation to come and learn Mixed Martial Arts from Max’s instructor, Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou). This time, Jake accepts. He meets Max at Roqua’s gym and is introduced to Roqua himself. Roqua briefly interviews Jake…who, he senses, is there for the wrong reasons. Nonetheless, Roqua allows Jake to train with him – both in class, and personally before classes – on the condition that Jake does not fight anybody for any reason outside the gym. Jake notices that Roqua apparently lives in the gym.

The night after Jake’s first training session, Baja comes over to his house to apologize for setting him up at the party. Jake quickly retorts after Baja tells him about her school life, saying "Does that mean I’m meant to feel sorry for you because you’re popular?" The next day, Baja confronts Ryan and breaks up with him on account that he beat Jake up. In his anger, he grabs Baja’s arm and refuses to let go, even after she pleads. Jake appears and attempts to stop it, only to which Ryan insults his late father, saying "You’re weak…like your old man…was". This insult has a negative impact on Jake’s training that afternoon. At the gym, he is too aggressive, and, Roqua, sensing this, tells him to go home to cool off. Max gives Jake a ride in his Ford Mustang. At a set of lights, three guys in a yellow Hummer relentlessly and annoyingly beep their horn at Max. Jake, still angry from Ryan’s insult, and spurred on by the repetitive horn, goes out to confront the three guys. He beats them all up on the street, and the footage is filmed by Max, and uploaded and spread throughout the internet. This further improves his social profile within the school, now being the second-most popular boy after Ryan.

The next training session, and unfortunately for Jake, Roqua sees that Jake has wounds on his knuckles which could have only come from fighting against his rules and banishes Jake from the gym. When Roqua goes grocery shopping, Jake confronts him and admits that Roqua was right: he signed up to train for the wrong reasons. Jake also tells Roqua the late Mr. Tyler’s story; evidently, Jake feels that his mother blames him for her husband’s demise. Roqua then tells his story: he had an younger brother, who was an excellent mixed-martial artist. One day in a bar, a local bully mouthed off at young Joseph, who was about to fight the bully himself. His brother won the brawl, only to be shot and killed by the bully’s friends. Jean’s father blames him for permitting the situation to escalate into violence which could have been avoided. Jean left home over that; he has not seen his father, or even set foot in Brazil, for the past seven years.

Jake declines to enter The Beatdown. When Ryan discovers this turn of events he invites Max to McCarthy Manor on false pretenses. There Ryan engages Max in combat and beats him brutally. Fearing for his friends’ safety, Jake reverses his decision and enters The Beatdown after all – only to face Ryan. Roqua hears of this as well, and confronts Jake with an ultimatum: Jake will never be allowed near the gym again if he even goes to The Beatdown, much less fights in it. Jake – realizing that Roqua is trying to prevent him from making the same mistake which Roqua himself made with his own father – answers that Roqua’s only mistake was not doing what Jake himself is about to do. Said mistake wasn’t brawling; it was evading the conflict at hand, rather than confronting and resolving it.

At The Beatdown, both Jake and Ryan reach the semi-finals. Then Ryan is disqualified for eye-gouging. In view of this, Jake taps out one second into his semi-final bout (because his purpose for entering The Beatdown to begin with is no longer present). Outside the club, Ryan attacks Jake and they have a spectacular brawl in the club parking lot. Ultimately Jake wins the fight. (In the 2 Disc and Blu Ray versions, there is a deleted scene where Ryan tries to challenge Jake to a rematch.) Jake replies to this by bringing to light the fact the fans are chanting for the rematch unsatified with the fight they just saw, and subsequently they want to watch just simply two guys "kill" each other and do not care about the sport itself. This would cause Ryan to realize he had basically been a puppet to gladitorial combat for the amusment of others and not the one on top and in control he thought he was. Angered and embarrassed he yells at the crowd and runs off.

Jake has won the respect of all his fellow students, up to and including Ryan. For the first time in a long while, Roqua closes the gym and goes to visit his family in Brazil.

{tab=FullCast & Crew}

Produced By:

  • Bill Bannerman known as co-producer
  • Craig Baumgarten known as producer
  • David Zelon known as producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Sean Faris known as Jake Tyler
  • Amber Heard known as Baja Miller
  • Cam Gigandet known as Ryan McCarthy
  • Evan Peters known as Max Cooperman
  • Leslie Hope known as Margot Tyler
  • Djimon Hounsou known as Jean Roqua
  • Wyatt Smith known as Charlie Tyler
  • Affion Crockett known as Beatdown DJ
  • Neil Brown Jr. known as Aaron
  • Lauren Leech known as Jenny
  • Tilky Jones known as Eric
  • Steven Crowley known as Ben
  • Tom Nowicki known as Mr. Lloyd
  • Chele André known as Max's Girl
  • Chris Lindsay known as Beat Down Referee
  • David Zelon known as Ryan's Dad
  • Kyle Sabihy known as Jake's Teammate
  • Patric Knutsson known as Vocabulary Guy
  • Cameron Francis known as ER Doctor
  • Jeremy Palko known as Running Back (as Jeremy Palkowetz)
  • Antony Matos known as Yellow Hummer Crew (as Anthony Matos)
  • Daniel Hernandez known as Yellow Hummer Crew (as Danny Hernandez)
  • Justin A. Williams known as Yellow Hummer Crew
  • Jon McIntosh known as Beat Down Computer Kid
  • David J. Perez known as Miles Dupree
  • Jocelyn Binder known as Hot Tub Chick
  • Deon Stein known as Hot Tub Chick
  • Steve Zurk known as Jake's Dad
  • Reed Baumgarten known as Mansion Fighter
  • Devin Higgins known as Mansion Fighter
  • Jennifer L. Miller known as Female Mansion Fighter (as Jennifer Miller)
  • Delphine French known as Female Mansion Fighter
  • Joe Williams known as Latino Mansion Fighter
  • Angel Hernandez known as African American Fighter
  • Rachael Thompson known as Ex-Girlfriend Mansion Fighter
  • Ryan Frank Rayonec known as Ex-Boyfriend Mansion Fighter
  • Ryan Watson known as Mintz
  • Joop Katana known as Camin
  • Frank Santore III known as Taylor
  • Joseph Cortez known as Lopez
  • Craig Raboteau known as Nyah
  • Daniel Lovette known as Himoff
  • Tony Fuh known as Stackwell
  • Jonathan Eusebio known as Dak Ho
  • Peter Allende known as Villa
  • Remington Reed known as Kline
  • Josh Mueller known as Last Year's Opponent (as Joshua Mueller)
  • Chris Adler known as Combat Club Fighter (uncredited)
  • Robie Alan known as Cup Boy (uncredited)
  • Shawn Banks known as Beefy Door Guy (uncredited)
  • Steven Blincoe known as Club Dancer (uncredited)
  • Colin Bowman known as Loading Dock Worker (uncredited)
  • Michael Brzeski known as Student with Backpack (uncredited)
  • Jasmine Burke known as Student (uncredited)
  • Chris Byrne known as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
  • Marc Carasello known as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
  • Chris Cavallaro known as Fisherman (uncredited)
  • Ricky Dunlop known as Student (uncredited)
  • Rod Grant known as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
  • Jen Halbert known as Spectator (uncredited)
  • David How known as Dockworker (uncredited)
  • Leonard Iacono known as Football Spectator (uncredited)
  • Bjorn Jiskoot Jr. known as Student (uncredited)
  • Elissa Kapneck known as Party Guest (uncredited)
  • Joyce Kirkconnell known as Sexy Girl (uncredited)
  • Jesse Kozel known as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
  • Randi Lee Krasny known as Party Girl (uncredited)
  • Kei Leong known as Beatdown Spectator (uncredited)
  • Nathena Lewis known as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
  • Douglas Lopez known as Student / Fight Spectaor (uncredited)
  • John Archer Lundgren known as Hospital Patient (uncredited)
  • Tiffany Marshall known as School Teacher (uncredited)
  • Kristin Mellian known as Points Keeper (uncredited)
  • Eric Mentis known as Guy at Party / Guy at Coffee Shop (uncredited)
  • Levon Mergian known as Crowd (uncredited)
  • Freddie T. Mitchell known as Fight Club Spectator (uncredited)
  • Nancy Molimis known as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
  • Sean Molnar known as Party Goer (uncredited)
  • Tony Morales known as Market Patron (uncredited)
  • Jennifer Paige Moralez known as Party Girl (uncredited)
  • Craig Myers known as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
  • Tom Myers known as Loading Dock Worker (uncredited)
  • Kristin Popelka known as Girl in Crowd (uncredited)
  • Aaron Pushkar known as Fight Club Instigator (uncredited)
  • Summer Raine known as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
  • Regina Ramirez known as Student (uncredited)
  • Danny Rawley known as Tennis Player (uncredited)
  • Christian Roberts known as Ryan's Friend (uncredited)
  • David W. Scott known as Loading Dock Worker (uncredited)
  • AJ Semiday known as High School Kid / Beer Chugger (uncredited)
  • Mason Sharrow known as Wake Boarder (uncredited)
  • Milissa Skoro known as Baja's Friend (uncredited)
  • Joanne Spracklen known as Party Girl (uncredited)
  • Chris Tharp known as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
  • Kara Turner known as Girl at Coffee Shop (uncredited)
  • Andy Ussach known as Man at Coffee Shop (uncredited)
  • Aries Marvin Uzzle known as Student / Athletic Guy (uncredited)
  • Marnie Van der Burgt known as Tennis Spectator (uncredited)
  • Wolfgang Weber known as Club Fighter (uncredited)
  • Stacy Westbrook known as Bikini Babe (uncredited)
  • Roy Williams Jr. known as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
  • Steven Winfree known as Football Player (uncredited)
  • Ilya Jonathan Zaydenberg known as Guy with Wakeboard (uncredited)

..{tab=Supporting Department}Makeup Department:

  • Nancy Cummings known as additional makeup artist
  • Lee Grimes known as makeup artist
  • Jane Hassinger known as key hair stylist
  • Diane Maurno known as key makeup artist
  • Matthew Petty known as hair stylist (as Matthew Perry)
  • Deborah Brozovich known as assistant hair stylist (uncredited)
  • Linda Schonning known as additional hair stylist: crowd (uncredited)
  • Christine Wostak known as makeup artist (uncredited)

Art Department:

  • John Balling known as charge scenic
  • Joan Bernier known as scenic artist (as Joan T. Bernier)
  • Rex Christensen known as on-set dresser
  • Norman Delaney known as set dresser
  • Gary Dunham known as set dresser
  • Rod England known as leadperson
  • James Harris known as construction coordinator
  • Tom Ivanjack known as stand-by painter
  • Richard E. Kruder known as key set dresser
  • Brian Latimer known as graphic designer
  • Shawn W. Logue known as assistant property master
  • Jon McIntosh known as computer graphics
  • Greyson Miller known as set dresser
  • Deborah Palmer known as set designer
  • Jack Reeves known as lead scenic artist
  • Nicholas J. Romanac known as property master
  • Kevin Weber known as set dresser
  • Aaron J. Martin known as props (uncredited)


Production Companies:

  • Summit Entertainment (presents)
  • Mandalay Independent Pictures
  • Baumgarten Management and Productions (BMP)

Other Companies:

  • Absolute Rentals  post-production rentals
  • Axium Payroll Services  payroll services
  • Background Entertainment  background casting
  • Blink Entertainment  marketing and promotion
  • Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment  camera cranes
  • Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment  dollies
  • Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment  remote camera systems
  • Christine Bergren Music Consulting  legal services
  • Cineworks Digital Studios  HD dailies
  • Comerica Entertainment Group  production financing
  • DeLuxe Laboratories  color
  • EFilm  digital intermediate
  • Hanna Brothers Catering  catering
  • International Film Guarantors  completion bond
  • Kodak  motion picture film
  • Marsh Entertainment  insurance
  • Marshall/Plumb Research Associates  script research
  •  product placement
  • PES Payroll  extras payroll services
  • Pacific Title  titles
  • Panavision  camera equipment provided by
  • Paskal Lighting  lighting and grip equipment
  • Pictorvision  wescam provided by
  • Pivotal Post  Avid HD editing equipment
  • Reder & Feig  production legal services
  • Remote Control Productions  score mixed at
  • Smitty's Craft Service  craft service
  • Soundelux  post-production sound services
  • Susie Bench Music  music preparation
  • Technicolor  camera equipment provided by
  • Todd-AO Studios  post-production sound services


  • Summit Distribution (2008) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Summit Entertainment (2008) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Roadshow Entertainment (2008) (Australia) (theatrical)
  • Roadshow Entertainment (2008) (New Zealand) (theatrical)
  • Momentum Pictures (2008) (UK) (theatrical)
  • Inmoa Entertainment (2007) (South Korea) (theatrical)
  • Paradiso Entertainment (2008) (Netherlands) (theatrical)
  • Seville Pictures (2008) (Canada) (theatrical)
  • Shaw Organisation (2008) (Singapore) (theatrical)
  • CK Entertainment (2009) (Japan) (DVD)
  • EuroVideo (2008) (Germany) (DVD)
  • HBO Hungary (2009) (Hungary) (TV) (original airing)
  • Nordisk Film Theatrical Distribution (2008) (Finland) (DVD)
  • Odeon (2008) (Greece) (all media)
  • Paradiso Home Entertainment (2008) (Netherlands) (DVD)
  • Paradiso Home Entertainment (2009) (Netherlands) (DVD)
  • Transeuropa Video Entertainment (TVE) (2008) (Argentina) (DVD)
  • Universal Studios Home Entertainment (2008) (USA) (DVD)
  • West Video (2008) (Russia) (all media)

..{tab=Other Stuff}

Special Effects:

  • Luma Pictures (visual effects)
  • Gaines Images (visual effects)

Visual Effects by:

  • Alexandre Cancado known as digital compositor: Luma Pictures
  • Patrick Clancey known as digital opticals
  • Daniel Craemer known as roto/paint artist: Luma Pictures
  • A. Michael Dobbs known as roto/paint artist: Luma Pictures (as Michael Dobbs)
  • Chad Dombrova known as technical director: lead light & pipeline: Luma Pictures
  • Jenn Epstein known as roto/paint artist: Luma Pictures
  • Mike Gaines known as visual effects artist: Gaines Images
  • H Haden Hammond known as sequence supervisor: Luma Pictures
  • John R. Hazzard known as animator: Luma Pictures (as John Hazzard)
  • Brent Hensarling known as senior systems administrator: Luma Pictures
  • Giseon Kim known as roto/paint artist: Luma Pictures
  • Erik LaPlant known as visual effects coordinator: Luma Pictures (as Erick LaPlant)
  • Vincent Lavares known as data manager: Laser Pacific
  • Jason Locke known as 3D tracker: Luma Pictures
  • Jessica Madsen known as digital artist
  • Jessica Madsen known as roto/paint artist: Luma Pictures
  • Artin Matousian known as systems administrator: Luma Pictures
  • Artin Matousian known as technical director: Luma Pictures
  • Juan Melendez known as visual effects coordinator: Luma Pictures
  • Glenn Morris known as visual effects producer: Luma Pictures
  • Dawrath Phoue known as roto/paint artist: Luma Pictures
  • Brett Reyenger known as 3D tracker: Luma Pictures
  • John Riggs known as technical director: character: Luma Pictures
  • Marcos Romero known as animator: Luma Pictures
  • Payam Shohadai known as executive visual effects supervisor: Luma Pictures
  • Joey Sila known as digital compositor: Luma Pictures
  • Jared Simeth known as digital compositor: Luma Pictures
  • Thanapoom Siripopungul known as roto/paint artist: Luma Pictures
  • James Waterson known as digital compositor: Luma Pictures
  • Jimmy Wu known as matte painter: Luma Pictures
  • D.R. Farquharson known as project manager: Efilm (uncredited)

Release Date:

  • USA 4 March 2008 (Hollywood, California) (premiere)
  • Canada 14 March 2008
  • USA 14 March 2008
  • Thailand 15 March 2008
  • Australia 27 March 2008
  • New Zealand 3 April 2008
  • Ireland 4 April 2008
  • UK 4 April 2008
  • Russia 10 April 2008
  • France 16 April 2008
  • Spain 18 April 2008
  • Belgium 23 April 2008
  • Philippines 23 April 2008
  • Ukraine 25 April 2008
  • Poland 9 May 2008
  • Iceland 14 May 2008
  • Turkey 16 May 2008
  • South Korea 22 May 2008
  • Estonia 30 May 2008
  • Singapore 19 June 2008
  • Croatia 17 July 2008
  • Netherlands 24 July 2008
  • Israel 31 July 2008
  • Venezuela 1 August 2008
  • Colombia 6 August 2008
  • Germany 14 August 2008
  • Brazil 15 August 2008
  • Mexico 22 August 2008
  • Egypt 27 August 2008
  • Kuwait 11 September 2008
  • Austria 3 October 2008
  • Finland 8 October 2008 (DVD premiere)
  • Italy 28 November 2008
  • Argentina 17 December 2008 (DVD premiere)
  • Peru 5 February 2009
  • Japan 27 February 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • Hungary 16 October 2009 (TV premiere)

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving intense sequences of fighting/violence, some sexuality, partying and language – all involving teens


Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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