Jake Tyler helps his high-school football team win an important game. A frustrated player from the opposing team makes taunts about Jake's father, who was killed while driving drunk. Infamously-hot-tempered Jake starts a brawl with the opposing player. Spectators capture said brawl with mobile phones and video-cameras. Soon, the brawl is uploaded to the internet.
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 are moving with their widowed mom to Orlando, Florida...where Charlie has received a scholarship. The Tyler brothers are close despite Jake's penchant for fighting and getting into trouble, which greatly upsets their mom.
At his new school, Jake has a hard time fitting in. He catches the eye of Baja Miller, a pretty classmate who flirts with him. Later, Jake notices fellow student Max Cooperman 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 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 - 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. Even Baja appears disgusted by Jake's losing the brawl.
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. 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.
Baja comes to Jake and begs his pardon for setting him up with that fight against Ryan. Yet she also points out that Jake wanted the fight as well. Jake shrugs off her apology. Baja goes back and breaks up with Ryan, whom she claims is a sadist. Ryan grabs her in a rage (thereby proving her point). Jake rushes up and breaks Ryan's grip on Baja. To save face, Ryan repeats his insults against Jake's late father. Later, in Roqua's gym, it becomes apparent that Jake's anger and guilt (over letting his intoxicated father drive that night, against the boy's better judgment) has affected his training for the worse. Roqua sends Jake home to cool off. Max gives Jake a ride back. En route, Jake and Max are accosted by three gang members. A fight breaks out, which Jake wins easily, and which Max catches on video. As with the football video, this one bolsters Jake's reputation among his classmates; he is now second only to Ryan as the most popular guy in school. The jealous Ryan challenges Jake to The Beatdown: a local underground fight tournament.
Unfortunately for Jake, Roqua sees that Jake has wounds on his knuckles which could have only come from fighting against his rules. He banishes Jake from the gym, refusing to even give back the two-month membership dues Jake paid him in advance. 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...until Ryan, hearing of this, 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. Hearing of the fight, so many club patrons exit to watch it that The Beatdown is postponed. Ultimately, Jake wins the brutal confrontation...by knocking out Ryan with a Jab-Cross-Roundkick Combination which Roqua has been teaching him to perfect. Triumphantly, Jake and Baja hug each other.
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 for a week, and goes to visit his family in Brazil.
Sean Faris as Jake Tyler
Amber Heard as Baja Miller
Djimon Hounsou as Jean Roqua
Cam Gigandet as Ryan McCarthy
Evan Peters as Max Cooperman
Chris Adler as Combat Club Fighter
Jim Coleman as Referee
Leslie Hope as Margot Tyler
Never Back Down debuted in 2,729 theaters with $8,603,195 at the Box-Office. After 2 weeks in cinemas, it gathered $18,890,093; and after one month the movie earned $37,676,991 worldwide.
Filming began on 16 July 2007.Parts of the movie were filmed at Cypress Creek High School in Orlando, Florida. Other parts were filmed at and around Sycamore High School in Pleasant View, Tennessee.
Never Back Down will be on DVD July 29, 2008 on one disc and two disc editions. The two disc edition will include both beat down extended and theatrical versions.
The film was originally titled Get Some until December 2007. Filming took place entirely in downtown Orlando, Florida. All school scenes were shot at Cypress Creek High School and the apartment complex in which Jake and his family lived in was actually Wesselly Apartments just behind Highway 408.
"Above and Below" by The Bravery
"Anthem for the Underdog" by 12 Stones
"Wolf Like Me" by TV On The Radio
"Teenagers" by My Chemical Romance
"Someday" by Flipsyde
"Under The Knife" by Rise Against
"Full Circle" by Drowning Pool
"Rockstar" by Chamillionaire
"Be Safe" by The Cribs
"My Generation" by Limp Bizkit
"False Pretense" by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
"Orange Marmalade" by Mellowdrone
"You Are Mine" by Mute Math
"Stronger" by Kanye West
"Crank That (Travis Barker Rock Remix)" by Soulja Boy
"The Slam" by tobyMac
"Pain Redefined" by Disturbed
"Time Wont Let Me Go" by The Bravery
"...To Be Loved" by Papa Roach
"Headstrong" by Trapt
"All Around Me" by Flyleaf
The film received generally negative reviews from critics. As of March 14, 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 22% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 50 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 40 out of 100, based on 18 reviews. Richard Roeper, host of At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper, gave the film a marginal "thumbs up" saying "I laughed so much at the litany of clich?s that I finally had to admit I was entertained from start to finish by this cheesy knock-off." Michael Philips, guest critic for that week gave the film thumbs down and felt the film was "not worth recommending for any reason".
The film won the MTV Movie Award for Best Fight with Sean Faris and Cam Gigandet.