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Film / Never Back Down 2

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"Now remember — an angry mind is a narrow mind."

Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown is 2011's direct-to-DVD follow-up to 2008's Never Back Down.

Mike Stokes (Dean Geyer) is a college wrestler with daddy issues AND anger management issues. Zack Gomes (Alex Meraz) is a cocky up-and-coming boxer forced to retire due to an eye injury. Tim Newhouse (real-life UFC fighter Todd Duffee) struggles to make ends meet for his family following the death of his father. And Justin Epstein (Scottie Epstein) is a bullied comic book store clerk with poor self-esteem. These four young men are all set to take part in the Beatdown, an underground mixed martial arts tournament now promoted by college student Max Cooperman (Evan Peters), Jake Tyler's best friend in the first film. But first, they need to truly learn the sport of mixed martial arts, emphasis on mixed, with former MMA fighter/ex-convict Case Walker (Michael Jai White) as their trainer. Walker is stern, strict, and largely humorless, and the trainees can't stand each other, but they eventually develop respect for their mentor, and the respect and friendship of one another.

Well, except one of them, though we'll get to that later.

The film marks White's directorial debut, and a third movie in the series, also starring and directed by White, began filming in June 2015.

This film provides examples of:

  • Bald of Evil: Justin.
  • Berserk Button: Like Jake from the first film, Mike has daddy and anger issues, but this time, his father is alive and well, but having recently left his family for another man. Hinting at this makes Mike testy, and mentioning it outright often makes him snap.
    • Tim, while preparing for his Beatdown semifinal match against Justin. Otherwise the Gentle Giant of the four trainees, he finally loses his temper at Justin at the Beatdown, when Justin taunts him about his mom working in a strip club. And gets his leg whacked by Justin as a result, forcing him to forfeit their semifinals fight.
  • The Casanova: Zack, who makes no attempt to hide his being a player with the ladies, and even dumps Eve via text message.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Although they finally put their differences behind them prior to their semifinal match, this is further underscored when Zack and Mike hug it out after the latter beats the former.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Early in the film, a group of knife-wielding thugs decide to assault Justin, who seems like easy pickings. Despite training with Case and becoming quite a capable MMA fighter, the bullying and teasing often directed Justin's way makes him less and less mentally stable as the film goes on. This climaxes when he decides to get revenge and waste the thugs. After breaking some bones with his MMA skills, he tops it off by grabbing a metal rod from one of the guys and using it to beat another one of the thugs to a bloody pulp.
    • After being kicked out of training, Justin gets back at Case by planting a gun in his trailer to frame him up and send him back to jail for violating his parole.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Justin goes mental on the three thugs who had mugged him earlier in the film, and brags about annihilating them to an unimpressed, eventually disgusted Case, who promptly kicks him out of training.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Justin. Awkward and only mildly annoying at first, he's often the butt of his fellow trainees' jokes. But as his new-found MMA skills — and the teasing — get to his head, he shaves his head and eventually evolves into a full-blown psychopath.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine (Mike), Choleric (Zack), Melancholic (Justin), and Phlegmatic (Tim).
  • Gentle Giant: Tim. Soft-spoken, humble, wouldn't hurt a fly (outside training and the Beatdown, that is). Just don't mess with his mom and her unfortunate occupation.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Zack. He starts out the film as being too arrogant for his own good, and even withdraws from the Beatdown, partly due to his bad eye, partly due to hubris. But as he realizes the importance of Case's training and develops respect for Mike and Tim, he learns to humble himself.
  • Inevitable Tournament: Not surprisingly, all four of Case's trainees make it to the semifinals in the 16-man Beatdown tournament.
    • At first, Tim has no reason to join the Beatdown, while Zack, initially interested, backs out when he realizes he doesn't want to risk going blind from his retina injury. They ultimately decide to join (or in Zack's case, rejoin) in order to avenge their mentor Case, who was framed up by Justin and sent back to jail.
  • Kick the Dog: Much like popular Jerkass Ryan from the first film, loser-turned-psychopath Justin takes pleasure in tormenting his opponents when they're down, may they be street thugs or his opponents in the Beatdown.
  • Love Triangle: Between Mike, Zack, and Eve.
  • Moment Killer: Mike's college roommate Kurt walks in while Eve surprises a recuperating Mike in his dorm room, wearing an arguably Stripperific outfit best suited for the club, not the campus. Far from being pissed-off at Kurt for telling everyone about his daddy issues earlier, Mike deadpans that she already has a boyfriend.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Again, played straighter than Robin Hood's arrows.
  • Only in It for the Money: Tim's mom, who takes a job as a strip club waitress following her husband's death.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Averted when one of the crooked cops calls Case by his real name, Elijah. His father's name, however, is Casey, which does justify the nickname somehow.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Justin. At first, he overcompensates for still being a pushover by making juvenile taunts and wisecracks, but gradually progresses into a remorseless villain out for revenge against everyone who wronged him.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty of 'em in here, like in the first film.
    • When recruiting Mike to join the Beatdown, Max says the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva, and Alistair Overeem have all heard of Case Walker, even if younger fans like Mike have no idea who he is.
    • One scene in the locker room has the boys dropping a plethora of MMA mainstays' names, including Mirko Cro Cop, Bas Rutten, Michael McDonald, and that "buff, blond brother" whom none of them can remember, until Case appears from out of nowhere and says it's Kevin Randleman. Walker is even referred to have had a classic rivalry with Rutten (maybe in this film's continuity Rutten is not undefeated).
  • Straight Gay: Mike's dad, who left his family for another man.