Max Cooperman, after befriending Jake, introduces him to MMA and gets him connected with an instructor named Jean Roqua. Jake manages to pass a few of Roqua's physical tests and impresses him with his willpower and is accepted as his student. Roqua warns Jake that while he is under his instructorship, Jake cannot fight outside the gym no matter the reason and if he breaks the rule he will be thrown out of his gym. While Jake trains under Roqua, he initially has difficulty doing so due to his anger towards his incident with Ryan. Baja tries to make amends with Jake by apologizing for her role in the fight between him and Ryan but Jake refuses to forgive her. When Ryan shows no remorse for his fight with Jake or his sadistic tendencies, Baja breaks up with him, to which Ryan responds by aggressively grabbing her. When Jake tries to intervene to protect Baja, Ryan insults him about his father again and leaves. At practice, with Jake still furious over what happened, is told by Roqua to leave the gym until he cools off. Riding back from the gym with Max, Jake gets into a road rage brawl with a group of men whom he easily dispose of. Max films the video, which circulates around the school and raises Jake's social status which ends up agitating Ryan enough to confront Jake. After cornering Jake in the bathroom and roughing him up, he challenges Jake to compete in the Beatdown, an underground fighting tournament of which Ryan is the reigning champion. When Roqua discovers that Jake has fought outside the gym, he kicks him out and tells him he is not welcome back. A little while later, after Jake pleads with him, Roqua obliges and welcomes Jake back to the gym. Roqua puts Jake through more rigorous training which Jake uses in preparation for the Beatdown. After a workout, Roqua confides in Jake that he came from Brazil and is in self imposed exile. He tells Jake that his brother was a skilled MMA fighter and had handily beaten a local troublemaker who had challenged him. The man later returned with a gun and murdered his brother. Jean's father blames him for the death, saying he should have been watching out for him. Jake later on meets with Baja and apologizes for not forgiving her and they start a relationship. Jake eventually becomes reluctant to compete at the Beatdown seeing it as something Ryan wants, but his mind is changed after Ryan invites Max to his house and assaults him, leaving him on Jake's doorstep to be found. After leaving Max at the hospital, Jake goes to see Roqua and initially arguing over Jake's decision to participate in the Beatdown eventually relents and reminds Jake to "control the outcome".
Jake arrives at the tournament and both he and Ryan make their way through each round, each emerging victorious. Jake makes it to the semifinals in spite of an injury he received in the previous match. Baja arrives to not only support him, but to tell him that she understands why he insists on fighting: so that he would never have to fight again. After learning that Ryan was disqualified in his semifinal match due to an illegal eye gouge, Jake forfeits, seeing no reason to continue. While he and Baja attempt to leave, Ryan confronts him and the two finally fight outside in the parking lot. Jake is still limited by his injury, and Ryan at first gains the upper hand, applying a choke on Jake. However Jake escapes and knocks out Ryan using one of the first combinations Roqua taught him. Eventually, Jake wins the respect of his fellow students, including Ryan; and Roqua decides to go back to Brazil to reconcile with his father.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 23% based on 84 reviews, with an average score of 4.40/10. The site's consensus states: "Though not without its pleasures, Never Back Down faithfully adheres to every imaginable fight movie cliché". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100 based on reviews from 22 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Fight movies have their place in cinematic history (Rocky, anyone?); done right, they manage to capture the humanity in the brutality and the poetry in the punch, but NEVER BACK DOWN doesn't. The cuts are so quick that you can't appreciate any technique. And though, like better sports films, the film does attempt to reveal the internal struggles that fuel the physical ones, it does so with overly broad strokes. There's little nuance or complication and so many fight scenes that when the movie finally gets to the big beat down, it's almost anti-climactic -- it just feels like yet another battle. The movie's also riddled with cliches; there's a supportive girlfriend, a funny sidekick, mantras ("Control the outcome"), and even a race between the mentor and the mentee that's a straight rip-off of Rocky.
We cannot succumb to intimidation tactics and the cancel culture. As someone who has fought for decades for civil rights, I assure you that when you back down they never back off. Instead they become more aggressive.
Daddy watched the Masters every year. He dreamed of attending just one, and he's always on my mind when I come here for my job. Indeed, for all of us lucky enough to actually walk through these gates, we cannot leave without having thoughts of our daddies, for Augusta National is a place for fathers and sons. Davis Love III navigates the same fairways as Davis Love Jr. New fathers carefully hold toddler hands. "Can you see?" you'll hear them say. Strong arms tenderly steer stooped backs. "Look out, Dad," you'll hear them say softly. That is Augusta.
The First TeeWe were a father and son in my dad's imagination before my parents even knew I was a boy. On the day I was born, he sat down and wrote a letter to himself, cataloging his thoughts as his first child came into the world. He called me his son, with daughter written each time in parentheses, just in case. When I arrived, before my mother even cleared her head, he had already filled out the birth certificate. There was never even a discussion of what I would be called. "Walter Wright Thompson, Jr.," he wrote.
His own dad was a tough man with unfulfilled boyhood dreams. Nothing was good enough. When my Daddy, a star quarterback, would run for three touchdowns and throw for two more, Big Frazier would be waiting after to ask why he'd missed that tackle early in the third quarter. Daddy decided that when he had a son of his own, he'd do it differently. He'd give his whole heart, shower all the love and attention and approval he could muster. He would be a good daddy. A sweet daddy.
But the man had never backed down. Once, in college, he knocked out an All-SEC football player for messing with his brother. He attacked this disease just as viciously. After the first chemo session, he stopped at a greasy fast-food chain to get a sack of sliders, an f-you to the poison. To walk through a hospital with him was to understand his gift for life. All the nurses and doctors and patients - especially the patients who sat through the treatments alone - called him by name. For each, he had a kind word and a smile. He raised the energy level of every room he entered.
Only, sometimes, it does happen like in the movies. He responded to the chemo. The doctors saw the tumors shrinking and, finally, a scan revealed he was cancer free. We couldn't believe it. He didn't act surprised.
Daddy and I made immediate plans for a vacation. We'd go back to Destin, where he'd found my stuffed animal. I bought the tickets and, the day after the tournament, I drove to Atlanta, met him at the airport and, together, we flew south. In the air, I gave him my Masters media credential. He collected them, kept them hanging by his bathroom mirror to remind himself that his son had gone places. He treasured the parking passes, too, and, faithfully affixed them to his truck after I left Augusta.
As I sat in Kansas City, watching the movie "Miracle," my father passed away. It was only a few days away from our return fishing trip. My mom didn't want to tell me until I got back to Mississippi, so she made what had to be the toughest phone call of her life. After watching her husband of 34 years take his final breath, she called me and said it didn't look good and that I needed to bring a suit. I refused to pack funeral clothes, holding out hope.
Exactly a year after he died, my family gathered at home. We had a baby tree, grown from an acorn that came from the sturdy oaks in Ole Miss' legendary Grove, where Daddy spent so many happy afternoons. We gathered at the spot where he'd sat, where he'd made his peace, and we dug a small hole, filling it in with the roots of the sapling and potting soil. I carefully patted down the earth around the stalk. Then it was done.
But those small whispers and nudges are rare, so I try to find bits of wisdom and the comfort of his presence in the places he loved. I eat at The Mayflower Café in Jackson, Miss., I stay at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, D.C., and now, I've come here, to this wonderful, ageless cathedral, walking up and down the perfectly manicured fairways, hoping to find a father. I walk up No. 10, crossing 15 near the grandstand, working back and forth through the pines, making my way toward Amen Corner. He first told me about it. The most amazing place in golf, he'd say reverently. Maybe he'll be here. Maybe he knows his son is lost.
The clubhouse is in front of me now, and I have one final task. Once I bought my Daddy shirts and windbreakers. On this afternoon, I have something different in mind. I hurry into the cavernous golf shop, past the framed posters and women's clothes to the back of the store. This is unfamiliar territory. I search the wall for the things I want, and I ask the clerk to take them down.
Santa Clara men's crew is aiming for a great 2007 campaign. Junior rower Dave Merselis will be there every step of the way, providing Bronco fans with insight into the season. From early morning workouts in the Leavey Center to regattas across the country, Merselis will be the eyes and ears of the Bronco men's crew team.-----------------------------------------------------Posted: May 11, 2007One Last Early Morning by Stephen SmokerBefore we get started I just want to let all of the David Merselis fans in the house know that they can stop reading here. Yes, it's true he took this week off due to his Philadelphia trip to which the men's team sent the V8+ and the N4+. They are off to the Dad Vail regatta, which is the largest collegiate regatta in the United States. Our crew will be among over 100 other crews from all over the United States and Canada. This will be the 69th running of the Dad Vail Regatta, and we a proud to be a part of the great history and tradition that is this regatta.As for the rest of the team that stayed behind we are all just enjoying life without crew. We now enjoy sleeping in every morning and working out on our own watch. However, the end of the season is very bittersweet. I have noticed now that I do not see most of the guys as often as I would like, and it is especially weird to go to breakfast all by myself. I hate walking into Benson in the morning without seeing at least five of the guys sitting at rectangular table and joking about anything and everything.The last couple crew events that I am looking forward to are the end of the year team bbq where we will take a team picture and swap stories of our favorite crew memories. And next Wednesday's Athlete's Ball. This was a lot of fun last year to hang out with the team and the rest of the student-athletes at the school.Well hopefully you enjoyed this week's crew blog according to Stephen Smoker and I will leave you with this quotation from USRowing.com, "Physiologists claim that rowing a 2,000-meter race - equivalent to 1.25 miles - is equal to playing back-to-back basketball games."-----------------------------------------------------Posted: May 4, 2007Home Stretch!The 2007 WIRAs were once again an exciting and action packed event. Success was seen on both the men's and women's teams as numerous boats placed well in their preliminary heats and went on to make their mark in the finals. Saturday started off bright and early with our novice 4 destroying their heat in a time of 7:01 and making the grand finals. Soon after our V8 cruised down the course in an improved time of 6:18 and made it to the petite finals. The rest of the day seems to be a blur as races were coming down the course every minute and it was quite hard to keep track of the results. By the time the day had drawn to a close, some of us had rowed in three separate races and were DEAD tired.Sunday was then a big day. Amongst our achievements the novice four and the varsity pair placed 4th in their respective grand finals. The V8 placed just behind OCC (Orange Coast College) in the petites, which was a major improvement from last year. Also, on the women's side of things, the V8 and JV8 destroyed their WCC competition. Especially the Saint May's squad that had been giving them trouble all year in previous races. Congrats ladies!!Outside of rowing, this past weekend was awesome! Every night we had amazing meals provided to us by the Marweg's, Reeve's, Shoven's, and Shumsky's. Saturday night was extra special as our entire team gathered at Joshua Shumsky's house for an amazing BBQ. After playing a couple rather competitive rounds of Bump (a basketball game) the evening was topped off when one of the family guests came out and started doing magic tricks. All of us were `wowed' by his talent, and I was especially captivated. I even went as far as to creep up behind him to peer over his shoulder and steal his tricks. However, he became wise to what I was trying to do and `kindly' asked me to step back. Tee hee hee!Before I go any further with this blog, I'd like to send out a huge thank you to all of the families who have helped and supported us this entire year on behalf of our team. To the Marweg and Shumsky families, thanks for housing and feeding us during our multiple trips to Sacramento. To the Fette family, thank you for all of the food and goodies that you provided our teams with during the regattas. Last, but definitely not least, thank you to anyone and everyone who has showed up to our races and cheered us on this year!! We definitely appreciate it!As for funny moments this past weekend, freshman Ryan Amante brought a DVD player with the movie Top Gun to the race course Sunday. In the midst of rigging and preparing for our races, we would all be quoting the lines from the movie along with the actors as they said them. This was then taken up a notch when the bar scene in the movie came up. When this occurred, we all stopped what we were doing and began role playing the scene as if it was happening right there by our boats! While most people at the regatta were quietly awaiting the next race to come down the course, there we were over on the side, surrounded by random teams, belting out the Righteous Brothers song that was made famous by that movie. Now...to most this would have been a rather awkward moment, especially with lots of random girls watching. However, after a year full of embarrassing moments and lots of sing-a-longs, this was just another ordinary day for our team! :-)Anyway, that's about it for now. Currently our men's and women's varsity eights are preparing to head to Philadelphia next week for the Dad Vail regatta. I will make sure to update you on our status early next week before we head out.Until then, have a great week and weekend everyone!! Take care!Dave-----------------------------------------------------Posted: April 11, 2007WIRA's Time!! (Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association)Hey all!First of all, I tooooootally forgot to say a "thank you" to all of those who came out to support us last weekend at Lexington!! It was great to see all of our friends, family, and alumni out there to support us. We all wished we could've spent more time hanging out and mingling with the crowd. However, as you may know already, we were a little pressed for time since we had to get up to Stanford for our race at noon. Still though, I would like to reiterate how much our team appreciated your support. A special thank you goes out to the parents who set up the food tents and barbequed for us after our races! That was awesome!! Also, we would like to thank the teams that showed up to support us. Most notably these were the women's water polo team and the club volleyball team! We realize that you all sacrificed a sleep in day to come watch us race, and that definitely means a lot to us. Thanks again!Anyhoos...this week is a `biggy' for us as it's the annual WIRA competition up in Sacramento. For the past two weeks we have been doing nothing but seat racing and preparing for this regatta. Last week we spent most of our time in fours in an attempt to get the fastest possible lineup of rowers together. By the time this week rolled around we had a new lineup and a new perspective on our race strategy. Now Jimmy Shoven is back in stroke seat and I'm sitting in stroke pair with him at the 7 seat. Behind us sits Brendon Bula, Mark Elfving, Steve Kwei, and Steve Shanley in the "engine room" portion of our eight. Then we have Joshua Shumsky and Erik Moles sitting in bow pair.With this new lineup in place and a couple of practices under our belt, we have high expectations for our upcoming races this weekend! Also, we as a boat feel that we made some great improvements in our race plan during the Lexington regatta. Hopefully, all of these newly found aspects of our race will carry forward and bring us some success this weekend!As for what's happenin' in my life, two days ago I got `the eye of pink'! (Better known as Pink Eye, but I like to be clever like that sometimes.) Anyway, I didn't know what it was at first when I woke up in my apartment and started crashing into things while I was trying to pry open my eyes. By the time I finally got them open I found that I looked just like Rocky after he had been worked over in the ring (only there was no way I was gonna take a blade to my eye to lessen the swelling like he did...that's the next time I get pink eye I guess.) Even though my eyes have been hurting throughout the day, having pink eye has brought me a lot of entertainment. First off, I have discovered that I give off the `married with kids' vibe to strangers as that's what all of the nurses kept asking me about while I was in the hospital. Secondly, people keep asking me whether or not I've seen the movie 28 Days Later. According to them I look just like one of the zombies in that movie...Thanks FRIENDS! (Hmm...that would explain why a few kids ran away from me in the hospital though, as well as why I had a comfortable cushion of open seats next to me when everyone else was packed into the waiting room area.)Finally, this weekend I'm looking forward to going head to head with my best friend from home in the first heat of the varsity 4 race. He goes to Western Washington University and I always see him once a year at the WIRA regatta. Unfortunately though, over these past two years his boats have seen more success than ours. However, I believe this year we will duke it out the entire way as we now have a new lineup for our 4.Hmm...I guess that's about it for now. Wish us luck this weekend!! I will let you know how we do first thing next week in my blog, so stay tuned!!!Until then, take care and have a wonderful week/weekend!!DaveP.S.: Our men's rowing team is trying to find a way to update our current contact list for alumni. This past year during the time that we did our fundraising we noticed how a lot of our alumni's addresses or phone numbers are out of date. If possible, we would greatly appreciate it if you could send us your current address and phone number so that we can update our contact list. Amongst the things we are looking to send out to you in the future would be new editions of The Rusty Oarlock as well as any other fliers or pieces of literature about our upcoming crew events. For convenience, just go ahead and email me at email@example.com and feel free to add any suggestions that you might have for my blogs while you are at it! Thanks!-----------------------------------------------------Posted: April 11, 2007Underdogs!!Entering into competition this past weekend we knew we had our work cut out for us. UC Davis, Sonoma, and Cal Lights were all teams that we had seen earlier in the season up in Sacramento. In fact, we had already gone against both Sonoma and Cal Lights on several different occasions at various regattas, but we had yet to come away with a single victory in the 8 event. Thus it would be fair to say that we a rather big chip on our shoulder that we were looking to offload in a hurry at the Lexington Cup Saturday morning. Right from the start of the race we showed the other crews that our rigging was not the only thing that had changed in our boat over the past couple of weeks as we tore out in front of everyone. Following the stroke of Mark Elfving our boat fought neck and neck with UC Davis for the first 500meters of the race and led both Sonoma and Cal Lights by a fair margin. Crossing the 650meter mark our 8 made a strong move and called for a power ten to apply more pressure on Davis and to move further away from the other two crews. Immediately we lurched forward and halted the move that UC Davis had tried to put on our boat. After coming back down from our power ten we crossed the 1000 and realized that Sonoma was picking up their pressure with a counterattack. By the time we reached 500meters to go in the race Sonoma had walked their way back up to our boat and were pushing out a slight lead over our bow. Crossing the finish line we were in 3rd place with contact on Sonoma. However, despite how these results look on paper, this race definitely showed some progress!!Quickly de-rigging our boat following the race, our Varsity 8 headed up to the Windermere Crew Classic to face Stanford in the pouring rain. "Race for the bridge" was our plan entering into this second race of the day as we thought Stanford might get flustered if we could hold them off for 1000 meters. Unfortunately, even though we had another strong start to our race, our boat just couldn't match the intensity of the Stanford boat and we immediately found ourselves a boat length down. By the time we crossed under the bridge and entered the last 1000 meters we knew the race was out of hand and our focus shifted towards fighting against the strong wind conditions that we were experiencing for a decent finishing time. Returning for round two of the Crew Classic the next day, our boat headed out to face UC Davis's Varsity `A' boat. Again our plan was to race for the bridge in hopes that we could fluster the other crew and pull out a win. This time we were able to put up a rather strong fight against the crew as we maintained contact with their boat through the 1000 meter mark and beyond the bridge. Unfortunately, with about 500 meters to go in the race our boat experienced a few bobbles with the set of our boat. These bobbles allowed UC Davis to slip even further away and increase their victory by almost 20 seconds.Despite these losses, we were still quite pleased with our overall performances both at Lexington and at Windermere. After all, most teams with our size and experience would have been rather intimidated by these other crews such as Stanford and UC Davis as the average size of their rowers was 6'6" and 210+lbs!! Also, and something I didn't quite take note of until after the race, but all of the rowers on these teams are strongly recruited (even from other countries!) I finally came to this realization after I asked the 5 seat rower for Stanford his name and how he was doing, and the only reply I got while being given a confused look was "Guhood vrace." So even though we lost, I came away from this weekend rather proud of our crew and how we never backed down from the "impossible." Looking back on it, I can't help but to think of the saying "it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that matters." It is only a matter of time until we force other crews to acknowledge this.Hmmm... Recently I have not had much time to do anything besides race and practice for crew. So far it appears that class-wise this quarter will be another `doozy' for me, yet I'm maintaining some hope that I might be wrong with this initial impression. Outside of both crew and the classroom, I'm loooooooving the weather here in California!!! Being from the Seattle area, I love it when I call home to chat with my family and I hear about how miserable it is up there!! Hearing that always brightens up my day! Hahaha Alright, well I guess I will end this blog here since I don't have much more to say. Until next time, have a great week everyone!!! Take care!DaveP.S. Thanks for reading these blogs b.t.w.! I love hearing about how you guys read these, and I especially like hearing your feedback!P.P.S. Stay tuned for an in depth article about S.C. crew and the motivation that drives its rowers in the upcoming Santa Clara Broncos Sports Magazine (Spring Edition.)P³. S. Thanks to Jimmy Shoven's family for the awesome BBQ following our races Saturday!-----------------------------------------------------Posted: April 11, 2007Half-Way Through the Season!Unfortunately nothing too newsy has happened lately...Since we had a break in our racing schedule this past weekend, a lot of us headed home to be with our families for Easter. Aside from the fun that came along with crashing little kids Easter egg hunts (haha just kidding, I'd never do that...or would I?!?) we all really enjoyed this time away from crew as it allowed us to catch up on some much needed rest. After all, it had been almost two full weeks since we had a day off from crew and crew related activities.As Monday rolled around practice started up again and we had our first double-water day of the year. In spite of the hard work that we did during these two practices, the day was quite enjoyable as I'd consider the weather here in Santa Clara to be very "summer-like." Most of the time in these practices was spent on perfecting our racing lineups and strategies for this upcoming weekend. One major change that we have made with our lineup was that we re-rigged our boat so that it would be starboard stroked! (I have to admit that it felt a little "odd" the first time we rowed in it, but we are all definitely looking forward to seeing how it works out for us in the races.)Speaking of the upcoming races...This weekend is our major home regatta, the Lexington Cup. We will be racing against UC Davis, Cal Lightweights and Sonoma in both the 8 and the 4 events. The first race, which is the men's varsity 8, starts at 8am and I believe the races go until 11am. (Now I know this is reaaaaallly early for some of you folks out there, but heck you should still come and watch!! It will be fun!!) Once these races are over, our varsity team will immediately load our boats onto the trailer and head up to Redwood Shores where we will be squaring off against Stanford at 2pm!!! (Again I think you all should make it out to this race as well!! But if for some reason you can't... you can tune in to jamco.com and watch it live on the internet!) Following our hectic day of racing Saturday, we will then return to Redwood Shores on Sunday to race UCD around 11am. (I hate to beat a dead horse here, but you should make it out to this race as well!!!)Ok that's really all that is new with us this past week. Outside of crew I'm getting use to my new class schedule for the spring quarter. I'm kind of upset though because the one class I really wanted to take (Mechatronics and yeah, I know I'm a nerd but whatever) was cancelled!! So I guess I will have to put up with an extra math class...oh well.Until next time, have a great week and take care!!Dave-----------------------------------------------------Posted: April 6, 2007Fun In the SunHello again!As you may know, this past week was our "Spring Break." Yet while most college students were going wild on their vacations, we were practicing day in and day out in preparation for our upcoming races. Our mornings would begin around 6am when we would travel to Lexington for our first water practice of the day. After a couple of hours of intense training we would head back to campus for a quick bite to eat before returning to the reservoir for our second water practice. Following this practice, which was usually focused on technique, we would often find ourselves lifting in the weight room while blasting our favorite tunes on the stereo (most commonly this was Justin Timberlake a.k.a. J-Tizzil.) Even though most of this time in the weight room was spent on "crew exercises," I would be lying if I said we weren't making sure our beach muscles were in tip-top shape for our upcoming trip to San Diego.Men's Crew lounges about during the San Diego Crew Classic last weekend 2b1af7f3a8