Tuesday, April 21, 2009


It’s amazing how little of the title activity actually takes place in “Fighting.” Channing Tatum plays Sean MacArthur, a garden variety struggling citizen of the Big Apple who sells whatever anyone will buy and happens to know how to throw a punch. In formulaic fashion, he meets up with Terence Howard’s Harvey Boarden who fixes MacArthur up with some illegal, high bet prize fights the proceeds of which he hopes to use to help his down-on-her-luck love interest, Zulay Valez, played by Zulay Henao. Moderately funny at times, “Fighting” meanders through its 105 minutes with a little action totally 3 and a half fights and a lot of needless and pointless plot.

“Fighting” is a complete and utter rip-off of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “Lionheart” but without the pesky details like compelling back story or understandable dialogue. Instead of back story we get some mild daddy issues from MacArthur and a lot of attempted tension between him and his college wrestling rival, Brian White’s Evan Hailey. Other than that and a few slightly soulful glances between MacArthur and Zulay, the story of “Fighting” neither makes nor tries to make much in the way of sense.

As for the title activity, for a movie that would seem like it revolves around violence and ‘fighting,’ the action of the film is rather typical and not particularly extensive. Fairly well choreographed and accurate in its depictions, there is nothing special about the fights albeit the camera work does do a good job of capturing the intensity; most of the time you have a pretty good idea of who is throwing the punch and who is taking it.

In a lot of ways “Fighting” should really be called ‘Mumbling.’ Barely discernable and highly irritating, everything and everyone mumbles and stumbles through the film. The dialogue mumbles, the delivery mumbles and the plot mumbles. Shuffling its way across the floor, the movie itself would lose most fights it gets into, unsure of itself and so poorly edited that it never has the dexterity, mobility or energy to bounce around the ring, stinging like a mosquito and floating like a spider.

“Fighting” and the people in it do not live up to expectations. Channing Tatum is not a warrior badass but just a guy who wins just because, because well, the plot says he does. Zulay is given a funny old grandmother and cute young daughter to nag and doughfully look at MacArthur, respectively. The biggest disappointment of all is Oscar nominee Terrence Howard. His Harvey Boarden never really talks in a straight line, he is in fact the mumble king of the film, his lips move a lot and sound comes out, but he says next to nothing. Quirky and weird, we do not understand Boarden and really, we don’t want to.

“Fighting” is not extraordinarily bad, it just isn’t really any good. Prototypical about street-‘fighting’ films and the like, the action is tolerable and the acting just isn’t up to the expected par. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches and sometimes you need to know there are fights not worth fighting and should just be walked away from.

Considering I actually was a little hopeful for "Fighting," the film is definitely another nail in the coffin. That being said, I should have known better and it isn't a very big nail, but it is there.

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