Michael Jai White Talks Never Back Down 2

We get the lowdown on The Beatdown, and more from the accomplished martial artist and actor.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

ActionFest hosted the premiere of the new Michael Jai White movie, Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown. White directed and stars as Case Walker, the new trainer to a group of college boys entering an MMA tournament. Walker shows off White’s own moves, and even shows him doing pull-ups and floating side to side at the top of the bar. White met with press in Asheville, NC before participating in a panel with action directors.


Crave Online: How did the Never Back Down rights come to you?


Michael Jai White: I didn’t get the rights. Basically I petitioned for the directing role and I guess they thought that I made a good candidate.


Crave Online: Were you also interested in introducing four new fighters to the world?


Michael Jai White: Absolutely. I got the cast that I wanted. I think this is a dream cast for a movie. Not only was everybody cast great martial artists, they were great actors as well. Many times, movies that have some quotient of martial arts, it’s almost equivalent to a porn level on the acting. It’s almost like it’s just a given that the acting would be bad. I think there’s no reason for that. It’s about making the audience voyeurs to real life. Many times the acting is not paramount in action movies. So it’s no way of being an actor. I was an acting coach as well so I think it plays on my abilities to direct performance as well. I think we achieved that.


Crave Online: Any of those four kids could have their own spin-off.


Michael Jai White: Yeah, I was saying that several times. Each of these actors could be the lead in their own action film, without a doubt. Hopefully in the future it’ll be so.


Crave Online: Where did you learn to do those pull-ups where you go side to side at the top?


Michael Jai White: Well, I didn’t learn it in prison, that’s for sure but it’s actually this new exercise crazy that was born out of prison. In a lot of prisons they’re taking away the free weights and now they have bars. So they basically are doing all this crazy stuff on bars. I don't know if there’s any real name for that type of stuff but I just glimpsed a little bit of it when I did that. They’re doing all this outrageous kind of gymnastic stuff on bars now so it’s starting to get trendy.


Crave Online: We’re excited about the Black Dynamite cartoon, but is there any chance of a live action sequel?


Michael Jai White: Yes, absolutely. I’ve been walking around with the Black Dynamite sequel in my head for some time. Sometimes I bust out in laughter when I’m all by myself or around people who think I’m crazy. I’m looking forward to the time when we start putting that on its feet.


Crave Online: Will we see some cool fights with fatalities in Mortal Kombat: Legacy?


Michael Jai White: Oh yeah, we have cool fights. I know that. That’ll be the 12th worldwide, it’s going to be a big launch.