Sean Faris and fellow hot bodies take to the streets in Never Back Down
Dylan Vox | March 10, 2008
The second Brad Pitt ripped off his shirt, flexed his perfectly toned body, and beat the crap out of Edward Norton in Fight Club, the intriguing �sport� of street fighting became an underground phenomenon that, while illegal, has spawned many different machinations and a dedicated fan following.
Now, the new film Never Back Down takes another look at the testosterone driven subculture of street fighting, and though it may not sound like your cup of tea, the amazingly hard bodied stars – Sean Faris, Cam Gigandet and Academy Award Nominee Djimon Hounsou – certainly provide ample eye candy to keep you watching.
In an America obsessed with watching people beat each other up, boxing, ultimate fighting, mixed martial arts and wrestling all have huge fan followings. We've even made national heroes of some of the men and women who fight for a living.
In 1993, mixed martial arts began to hit popular culture with the foundation of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. The original television broadcast of the popular series had few rules; no biting or eye gouging, but other than that, everything else was allowed. Kickboxers, sumo wrestlers, kickboxers and more, the event became a ratings bonanza on pay per view.
And it became the talk of school via the internet, and underground competitions increased in popularity among adolescent boys, prompting Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, having seen a tape of the fighting, to set out on a crusade to extinguish the sport. He referred to the events as 'human cock fights' and convinced most states to issue a ban.
Which, of course, caused Hollywood to sit up and take notice once again.
In the spirit of the The Karate Kid and All the Right Moves, Never Back Down tells the story of a young hottie (Faris) who moves to a new town and instantly finds himself at odds with the high school in crowd. Only this group doesn�t bother with petty name calling and ostracizing – they just want to beat him down.
Faris, who plays the new town brooder Jake Taylor, says it's not a film about current martial arts, but rather a throwback to the sport's original concept.
"Some people are going to say that the movie is going to be a bad representation of martial arts because all the moves are illegal," he explains. "The thing is, the movie's not about tournament fighting. When you're fighting in the street, you're not going to worry about if the move's illegal or not."
Faris, who is the spitting image of young Tom Cruise before the whole Oprah/Scientology thing, found his way to the spotlight with guests appearances on shows like One Tree Hill, Smallville and Boston Public and a starring role in the short lived but critically acclaimed Life As We Know It.
Previously, he starred in David DeCoteau�s The Brotherhood 2: Young Warlocks... the director known for spotting young, hot talents and casting them against a frank, but not overt, homoerotic backdrop.
Although already in incredible shape before filming, Faris says there was a rigorous training process before the film started shooting.
"It was the training regimen from hell. It was about six hours a day, six days a week, for four months.
"I was eating four to five thousand calories a day. Then I would go and do Muay Thai, Jujitsu, Tae Kwon Do, lots of stretching, and I would see a chiropractor twice a week. It was like working from 9 to 5. We were getting up at 7 am, getting started around 8 am, and getting home around 7 pm."
The hard work shows: His flawless body is likely to be one of the film's top draws.
Faris� arch nemesis is played by OC hottie Cam Gigandet, who also underwent an extreme workout regimen to create the perfect lean body for the film. The two men look like Greek gods battling it out for bragging rights to the title of ultimate fighter.
After a good beat down by Gigandet, Faris enlists the help of a former mixed martial artist, portrayed by Djimon Hounsou, who agrees to train him.
Faris explained that the fight sequences had to be pushed back in the filming schedule. In early training, a body slam from Hounsou caused Faris a rather serious back injury.
"Dijmon is huge and is in incredible physical shape. It was a little intimidating, but he was so great to work with," Faris says. He was playing my mentor in the film, but he was also giving me great pointers as an actor."
A two-time Academy Award nominee for his brilliant performances in Blood Diamond and In America, Hounsou has amassed some serious credits to his name, appearing in films Amistad, Gladiator and Tomb Raider.
However, he too has been recognized for his fantastic physique. As a Calvin Klein underwear model, at 43 years old, he seems to define the phrase that beauty is ageless.
Though it may not evoke the same nostalgia for all things gritty and pulp as did its Brad fronted predecessor, the '80s throwback – with an admittedly grittier feel and more controversial subject matter – has all its ducks in a row. Flashy plot, sexy cast and seductive stunt work.
As Fast and the Furious did for street racing, this might well do for street fighting.
Bad repercussion? Probably – but the cast sure looks damn good doing it. Gay Link Content
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