Why Never Back Down is a steaming hollywood turd.

When I studied martial arts, there were two fundamental premises which forced their way into my tiny little head. The first is that getting into fights is a bad idea. People get hurt in fights. Even if you "win" a fight, you'll probably still get hurt and chances are you'll still end up a loser in the grand scheme of things. This movie doesn't really get this first principal, but at least it tries. The second principal is that the only fight you can't avoid is a fight driven by determinedly unreasonable behavior of the other principal. This is the one situation when fighting goes from being almost certainly morally wrong to a moral imperative. Never Back Down doesn't even begin to understand this principal. To the extent that telling someone that a Rocky movie will involve boxing in a ring is a spoiler, so is the following. The climax of the movie is driven by having the bully beat up the hero's sidekick. I haven't bothered with names since the characterization is so shallow that I don't see a point. The hero, reasoning as only a teenage boy can, that his arm candy, or little brother or mother might be next if he doesn't respond, goes to the big fight for the showdown. Sure enough there's a big fight between good guy and bad guy, which starts out formulaically with the good guy getting some good shots in, then the bad guy looks like he's going to win and then... big surprise, the hero pulls it out of the bag at the last minute and wins by kicking the bad guy in the head and knocking him unconscious. Yay, he wins the fight and bones the girl etc. ad nauseam. And this is my biggest complaint about what would otherwise be a crappy remake of a crappy remake of a crappy remake of a, well you get the idea. If it was so unreasonable, the situation into which hero had been forced, then why did the fight end with a knockout? As a codicil to the second premise of martial arts, there is a fundamental idea that you will never fight the same guy twice. The reason for this is simple: one of you will be crippled or dead. If it isn't so unbearable a situation that it is worth risking being crippled or killed, and facing the certainty of lawsuits and criminal action if you survive then you need to reevaluate why the fuck you thought you needed to fight in the first place. That's why I hated this movie. Not only does it glamorize fighting, but it divorces fighting from consequence. This movie sums up why everyone else on the planet fucking hates Americans; their standard for starting a fight is incredibly low and they don't even realize there are consequences, let along consider them. It's clear everywhere from a foreign policy of "preventive warfare" (and I won't even comment on the darkly oxymoronic humor of that beauty) followed by a plan for peace in Iraq that can in a word be summed up as "duh...?" through to inane pop culture crap like this movie. Guess what? Violent acts have far reaching consequences. But you sure wouldn't know if from this flick. The worst that happens in Never Back Down is you end up with some bruises, or if you're a sidekick, in the hospital with some bruises. The interesting things in this movie, the relationship between hero and his mom, and his little brother, and even the sensei's back story are barely touched on. The struggle of hero to overcome his anger is fraught with repeated references to guilt over how his daddy died with no reference to any other event. Even bad guy's relationship with his psycho dad would have been interesting, but it's given such a surface level treatment that I was left wondering if they needed to bulk out the movie so they picked it up of the cutting room floor. And that's why Never Back Down is a steaming hollywood turd.