If you had thoughts of seeing this cinematic disaster, please put a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger at your earliest convenience. The movie has, at best, a tangential relationship to the sport as we understand it. The genesis of the storyline and the author's grotesque ignorance of the sport is all the evidence you need. To wit:
My son was a sophomore at Santa Monica High School a few years back and they had some fights there where a lot of the kids gathered around and took out their cell phones too shoot clips of these fights. My son came home and told me about it and we took a look on MySpace. I started to think it was a pretty interesting phenomenon and did a little more research and found out that across the country, in some high schools, there were actually organized fight clubs aping the movie Fight Club itself. I thought this was an opportunity for a movie to imitate life imitating a movie.
Fight Club without the anti-consumerist message.
Well, they are kids.
Did you find this phenomenon shocking in any way?
Shocked would be too strong a word. I was fascinated by it. I wanted to do something with Mixed Martial Arts and this was a way to do it where kids weren't consuming the product, they're creating the product.
Is there a difference between Ultimate Fighting and MMA?
No. MMA is employed in Ultimate Fighting. Ultimate Fighting is sort of a loose term as well. UFC has co-opted that term but I think it just means "all in". No rules; anything goes.
Besides Fight Club, the other movie that comes to mind when watching Never Back Down is The Karate Kid. Did you ever have that meeting when you said, "This is Fight Club meets the Karate Kid"?
I didn't sell the movie as a pitch. I wrote the script and then sold it, so thankfully I didn't have to go in and say "It's Karate Kid meets the UFC". I actually hadn't seen The Karate Kid, I read the synopsis and got the idea of it. When writing the film and all the changes the script went through up to production, it was more, "How can we make this not like Karate Kid? How do we avoid that?"
You saw nothing metaphysical about this story?
No. I don't think so. I don't think who are involved in MMA necessarily bring any metaphysical component to the dance. I think it's more about physical excellence and discipline.
This is horrendous on levels both obvious (the "ultimate fighting" vs. MMA breakdown) and subtle ("Well, they are kids") that one has no idea where to begin. When Dana White references people coming out of the woodworks to see if they can rub two nickels together to make money off of this sport, one has to think the folks involved with this movie rank somewhere near the top of the list.