Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Never Back Down

Comparing Never Back Down to Karate Kid is a natural comparison. When Karate Kid came out in 1984 it was fresh. Then they had to go and make as much money off the franchise as they could, even resorting to creating a female Karate Kid. It sort of got embarrassing...the selling out good writing to turn a quick buck. I was dragged into this movie by my nine-year-old son, who has never seen Karate Kid. I figured he might enjoy the movie so I reluctantly went along.

I was surprised at the writing in this movie. Although there are obvious parallels to the Karate Kid, there are also plenty of differences. The characters in Never Back Down are well developed and the sub-plots interesting enough to hold your attention. The dialogue is believable and actually helps cover for a few inconsistencies with a couple of the characters. The writing as a whole was fresh and created a strong story out of an otherwise formulaic plot. If you recall Daniel-san practicing his one-legged kick with his arms outstretched over his head...which ultimately wins him his championship...well there is a parallel to that in this movie. Although that move was very predictable, getting to the fight where that move takes place has a few twists and turns. This makes the film easier to swallow as well as minimizing the inconsistency regarding the main character engaging in a vanity fight. One other thing the writing incorporated into this movie was the use of internet and YouTube to tell the story...that was definitely an interesting twist.

Never Back Down tells the story of a standout High School Football player (Jake Tyler) who transfers from Iowa to Orlando, Florida after his younger brother wins a scholarship to a Tennis Academy in Orlando. Sometime prior to the move, Jake allows his father to drive home from a bar resulting in an accident that takes his father's life. The anger that Jake feels is often translated onto the football field and later into a series of fights at his new school. Organized fights. Although Jakes motivations are wrong, he finally lands under the tutelage of a Martial Arts Instructor that teaches him discipline and control. The movie ends where you expect it to, with a showdown with the school bully. Jake is a physically fit specimen with tremendous power and likability, which is a nice contrast to the Karate Kid movie.

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