This is one of those films oozing potential as a great action flick but which is let down by a desire to focus on fighters rather than actors or action.
Cast for brawn over brain, central characters like three-time MMA world champion fighter Brody James (Josh Barnett) and undefeated psychopath Caesar Braga (Nathan Jones) have all the muscle and fighting skills you could want but the acting skills of a botoxed boxer.
Michael Jai White also returns from the previous film in the dual role of Director and Star, and he’s one of the few saving graces of the franchise.
Retired champ Case Walker (White) is convinced to go to Thailand to train Brody James for his match against Caesar Braga for the unscrupulous outfit known as the Primordial Fighting Championship (PFC). The resulting tale is populated with tough guy fighters behaving like amateur high school bullies, and exasperated women who put up with their men. The final showdown, we surmise fairly quickly, will be between superstud Case and the psychotic villain.
Hauty provides the makings of an engaging fight film but seems to lack the skill to write decent dialogue, although, in fairness, successful line delivery does come down to the actor too. Hauty is grossly let down by casting director Nichapat Chalermchatvichan. That said, there are some surprisingly funny moments in the film which help to raise it above the stereotypical plot a little.
The fight sequences are well executed and lovers of this genre will be inspired by the muscle on display. There’s nothing here to make Never Back Down, No Surrender anything new or refreshing however. You get what you expect, which is not necessarily a bad thing for undemanding viewers but will be disappointing for anyone hoping for a little more quality and a lot more suspense.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 5
Never Back Down, No Surrender is out this week on DVD and Digital.