The Manliest of Them All


It was originally the title of the movie, Never Back Down, and the poster, which includes a big, muscular black guy that’s wearing ragged gloves and looking ready to brawl that first attracted me to give this movie a shot.

Opening the story right in the middle of a fight, it’s not two minutes in when I hear the black guy, Case Walker (played by Michael Jai White), say to his coach:

“EXACTLY, YOU PLAY BALLS; YOU DON’T PLAY FIGHT,” that I’m already heavily sucked in.

Case Walker, who has been involved 42 official fights and never lost, was invited by his friend, Brody James (played by Josh Barnett), to train him to fight a foe ominously called “Psycho,” and later revealed to be Caesar Braga (played by Nathan Jones). How psycho is he? How does tearing open the bathroom door, breaking the sink with his bare hands and then smashing his face into the mirror sound to you? I’d say pretty nuts.

After Case flies halfway across the world to Brody’s training center in Thailand, he’s not kindly welcomed by the gym rats he finds since he’s too “old school,” as they laugh at the way he set up his “gym:” wooden boards, beer bottles, bags of gravel from a nearby junk site, tape on the floor and a crude drawing man on the wall.

I’d guess when someone who’s crazy about performing martial arts, but doesn’t have much money to invest comes along, they make every cent count by using any—and every—tool at their disposal. Case himself said it best: “I basically live in a van down by the river.”

Despite how oddly Case trains, once people see him kick the formidable NiuBi’s ass, they suddenly greatly respect him and all want him to be their coach.

Even though Case tries to keep a low profile while helping Brody train, it finally ends up that he will be the one to fight “Psycho” Braga.

A profound psychological conflict arises when Case realizes that Brody’s injury was set up by the sleazy business man, Hugo Vega, who had arranged the whole fight from the beginning.

What is Case Walker, a man who surrenders to no one, to do when someone sets him up to be their pawn? Well, that is for you to find out!