Screen Gems Movie Reviews
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Fighting April 24, 2009
Studio: Rogue Pictures
Rating: PG-13 for intense fight sequences, some sexuality and brief strong language.

A street smart hustler struggling to survive in New York City uses his fists to get ahead in "Fighting."

Shawn MacCarthur (Channing Tatum) is a young man from Alabama with a checkered past who is at first rousted by a con man named Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard).

But following a chance meeting a few hours later, Boarden takes Shawn under his wing as the newest participant in New York's underground world of street fighting.

But even a tough guy like Shawn isn't prepared for how brutal the illegal fight circuit is. While he finds success, Shawn has to mix it up with very dangerous individuals in a game where if you lose, you don't get paid.

While I was watching this movie I was struck by the fact that a film called "Fighting" actually has very little fighting in it.

I'll admit, the battle against the martial artist is pretty good, and the final brawl delivers some ferocity. But Shawn's other two bouts are very average, including one which gets cut ridiculously short.

Any film in which this much acting is required should work a little harder at finding better actors. I know Howard has previously been nominated for an Oscar but here his performance is muddled and mumbly. Tatum spends much of his time with a brooding, blank look on his face and none of the supporting characters leap out at you, with the exception of the grandmother of Shawn's love interest. The girl is a character named Zulay Valez played by an actress named Zulay Henao. That's not a coincidence. The filmmakers liked her name so much they incorporated it into the film.

Director Dito Montiel does a very good job of showing the seedy side of New York. So good in fact you won't ever want to visit. But his storytelling could use some polish and since he co-wrote the script he's also responsible for some of the cringe-inducing dialogue.

A movie that stumbles along with an occasional scene of compelling and brutal violence, "Fighting" just made me want to punch myself for watching it.

On my rating scale, "Fighting" earns a SINGLE.

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