Fighting (Dito Montiel) 2009

Shawn (Channing Tatum) is a young scrapper in New York trying to get by selling cheap crap on the side of the road.  He gets into a fight on the streets and two bit hustler Harvey (Terrence Howard) sees that he’s quite good.  Harvey convinces Shawn to perform in underground boxing for money.  Its first for a few grand a fight but then it gets up to 100,000 for the final fight against Shawn’s old college wrestling rival *gasp*.  Yeah, that sounds lame but it somehow makes sense in the movie and when you get to know the characters.

Fighting.  God, even the title gives an air that its bland and just NOTHING.  The trailers aren’t much better.  They just show Tatum fighting generic guys while Terrance Howard looks off into the distance.  The truth is however that I really had fun with Fighting.  Most of it has to do with the two leads; Tatum and Howard.  I had never seen Tatum before but he really did a great job.  How do I describe him?  Um, picture John Cena except Tatum is actually likable, charming and talented.  Okay, you can’t imagine that.  Um…picture like a more coherent Rocky Balboa I guess.  Point is, he carries a good portion of the movie.  And Terrance Howard is equally likable as the con man who can’t catch a break.

The fights are alright although it sometimes falls victim to the “cinematographer can’t hold the damn camera steady” syndrome.  One negative is that the build up to the final fight is rather abrupt.  You would think there would be more build up and we would learn more about Shawn’s rival.  Nah, turns out he’s just a dick.  The movie kind of plays out like the live action adaptation of a Def Jam NY game with Shawn going to different ethnic sections of New York and fighting different dudes with the chance of facing his old rival.

Fighting is kind of like this year’s Redbelt.  This movie is not as Ebert would say “a cinematic breakthrough”.  It is a pure cheese B grade exploitation movie through and through.  It is held together by the combined charisma of Tatum and Howard and some decent fight scenes (oh and by a surprisingly good super soul soundtrack).  It will by no means make my top 20 of the year but I had fun with it.  I would say check this movie out when it comes out on DVD.

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