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NEVER BACK DOWN (2008) *** review capsule by COOP

Posted on June 8th, 2008
Posted on June 8th, 2008

I can imagine the pitch for this. Some writer walks into a producers office and says, “Let’s redo ‘Karate Kid’ with some excessively attractive stars, current pop music and set it in the ultra-popular world of mixed martial arts (MMA)!”

Jake (Sean Faris), a tough-yet-honorable kid with a troubled past, moves to Orlando with his mom and brother. On the first day at his new school, he meets the gorgeous Baja (Amber Heard) who invites him to a party. Turns out Baja’s boyfriend, Ryan (Cam Gigandet), is hosting the party and he knows Jake’s reputation for brawling. Ryan, a bully and the best fighter in town, challenges Jake and beats him to a pulp. Humiliated, Jake enlists the aid of Mr. Miyagi… I mean Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou), a haunted former champion. Jean disapproves of street fighting but sees talent in Jake and agrees to train him in MMA. The rest of the film continues to mirror “The Karate Kid,” leading up to the obligatory tournament in the end.

Yeah, it’s a trashy remake but it satisfies all the rules of a 1980’s teen movie, which gives it a nostalgic flavor for me and anyone else who grew up with those films. Using MMA as the backdrop was a stroke of genius considering the sport now surpasses boxing in popularity. The hero and villain of the story seem believable as tough guys in the ring, but I’d like to see those skinny, pretty boys go up against the likes of Kimbo Slice. Now THAT would be a movie. A very short one.

I enjoyed “Never Back Down” as a time-waster. It has no substance, but it does have enough testosterone-laden aggression to satisfy an action fan.

Amber Heard should start looking into choosing better roles. The advance word on her performance in the upcoming and long delayed horror release, “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane,” have been stellar. Hopefully she won’t waste her time playing bimbos in every teen film that comes across her path.

“Never Back Down” arrives on DVD and Blu Ray, July 29. Trailer below…

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Trailer for the award-winning short PRISMA…


A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a brain-altering signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk...

WINNER: SPECIAL JURY PRIZE, 2017 Oxford Film Festival

WINNER: BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

SEMI-FINALIST: 2017 NanoCon International Science-Fiction Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST ANIMATION, 2017 End of Days Film Festival

NOMINEE: BEST GRAPHICS, 2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2017 Crossroads Film Festival
2017 Clarksdale Film Festival
2017 Twisted Dreams Film Festival
2017 Tupelo Film Festival
2017 NanoCon International Sci-Fi Film Festival
2017 FantaSci Short Film Festival
2017 End of Days Film Festival

Trailer for the lost short GOD MAKER…


Northern Mississippi 1932:
In a cabin in the woods, a blind blues guitarist will discover his destiny from a lovesick goddess who seeks to corrupt his soul.

GOD MAKER remains unfinished and in limbo for now, but the trailer expresses the mood and imagery intended for the project...

Coop’s award-winning 48 hour short film trailer for REGRESS…


Told in reverse, this experimental made-in-48-hours film begins with a shocking murder then backtracks (like a viewer rewinding a VHS tape) to reveal the chilling origins of this tragedy.

WINNER: BEST SHORT FILM at the 2013 Clarksdale Film Festival...
NOMINATED: BEST DIRECTING by the 2012 48hr. Guerrilla Film Challenge (international contest)...
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Crossroads Film Festival

Watch Coop’s award-winning short film THE BEST DAY…


WINNER: 2012 MAGNOLIA FILM FESTIVAL "Best Homegrown Film"
WINNER: 2012 SEATTLE TRUE INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL "Best Scream"

OFFICIAL SELECTION:
2012 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CLARKSDALE FILM FESTIVAL
2012 CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL
2012 NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI FILM FESTIVAL
2012 ATLANTA INDIE HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
2012 OTHERFEST
2012 MISSISSIPPI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
2012 SUN AND SAND FILM FESTIVAL

Morgan Freeman asks Coop a question at THE BEST DAY premiere! Video below…


My short film THE BEST DAY premiered in October 2011 at the Delta Cinema in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Little did I know I had a special guest in the audience who was about to ask me a question during the Q&A. Yep, I got a little flustered when I saw who it was.

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