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Never Back Down (2008)
Better than you heard
It's interesting how this movie seems to be a watershed for mma. Mixed martial arts really are making the transition from underground, extreme bleeding-edge expressions of combat sport to a mainstream and accepted pastime, and that shows in the commentary about this film. Those who have a clue about mma aren't saying the same things as those who don't.
I have no patience for critics, anyway. They're worse than academics, really, and nothing they say can be trusted. You want to know if a movie sucked? Listen to the people.
This movie didn't suck. Okay, it wasn't Cool Hand Luke, but is that really what you were expecting when you saw the advance poster? It went to great lengths to make a Classical reference from the Iliad significant thematically, and how often does a "teensploitation" flick do that? It even employed a little finesse in some of the on-screen relationships, and in ways that seemed to hold a little verisimilitude, even. If the filmmakers had made Jake Tyler a gay youth fighting for free speech in the school newspapers, the critics would have loved it. All they saw was scary teen violence, so they well, less than loved it.
Truth is that the movie isn't really glorifying violence; it's glorifying the quotidian, although it does seem to consider violence an acceptable means to an end. If you like mixed martial arts and you're not too delicate to watch stylized violence, rent it when it comes out. If you'd really rather watch 27 Dresses (you know who you are) tell your boyfriend it's chick flick time.