Four college freshmen happen to have the same goal – to participate (and ultimately win) the upcoming local “beatdown” mixed martial arts tournament. They all have their own reasons, but they all come together to train under a superb martial arts champion Case Walker (Michael Jai White).
A great fighter, and a very demanding and strict coach Walker at first doesn’t want to take on any students (he happens to have problems of his own: parents dead due to Katrina hurricane, he’s just out of the prison for killing a man with bare hands in a bar fight), however determined kids stay on their track, and Walker starts to prepare them for the “showdown”.
As the story develops, one of Walker’s students slips off the common path, and turns out to be a psycho, not caring about anyone (including his former friends, and Walker as well), and would stop at nothing to win the fighting tournament.
He also manages to frame Walker for the murder, and all the problems find their solutions “in the steel cage”.
Michael Jai White is not only the star of the film, he’s also a director – this seems to be his debut. And, I must say, this is a very solid debut for sure. White stars as Case Walker, and once again, proves that with him being the lead, the movie gets only better.
For example, the first “Undisputed” film starred Ving Rhames and Wesley Snipes, in “Undisputed 2”, it was Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins. Everyone came to conclusion that 2nd part was better.
Same happened here – “Never Back Down 2” is clearly better than the original. It’s pretty much everything: the fights are better, the characters are more vivid and believable, plus Michael Jai White handles the role of the mentor really good.
And for all you MMA fans – there’s Todd Duffee playing one of Walker’s students, and a cameo with Big John McCarthy towards the end of the film.
I should also mention Scottie Epstein, who plays Justin (the psycho) – throughout the whole film he transformed himself from a total “Kurt Cobain” wimp into a bald, raging fighter, hungry for blood. Very believable.
The film is never boring, entertaining, and what is mostly important in movies like this – it has great fights. For martial arts fans, this is a must see.
BZFILM SCALE: 6/10
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