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Fighting (2009) November 20, 2009

Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
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A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2009

Hard economic times have struck today’s world, and even the Hollywood is forced to acknowledge those realities. At least, this is one of the impressions given by the opening scenes of FIGHTING, 2009 drama directed by Dito Montiel.

Young protagonist Shawn MacArthur (played by Channing Tatum), who came to New York in order to pursue American dream, is forced to make ends meet by selling cheap counterfeit merchadise on the street. This kind of activity brings many risks and in one of such incidents MacArthur is forced to display his fighting abilities. This leaves good impression on Harvey Borden (played by Terrence Howard), quiet street hustler who tries to make a name as a street fight promoter. He approaches young man and becomes his manager, trying to use his talents in the sleazy world of professional bare-knuckles street fighting. MacArthur gradually make his name and some money, but soon he has to confront some ghosts of his own pre-New York past.

While the opening scenes of the film suggest something like an honest portrayal of social realities of contemporary New York, FIGHTING soon reveals itself to be nothing more than formulaic and not particularly formulaic sports drama. Dito Montiel, former punk rocker with a troubled street past, was supposed to give this film, which purports to expose “dark underbelly” of New York and its illegal fighting scene, some “street credibility”. His talents, however, couldn’t hide the series of cliches, including the bet scheme subplot and romance that appear to be obligatory for many films of the same genre. Audience also might have some trouble suspending their disbelief, since the protagonist happens to be played by an actor who looks more like a fashion model than tough street fighter.

Ironically, casting appears to be the only thing that makes this film watchable. Terrence Howard, one of the best character actors of contemporary Hollywood, again shows great skill by making his character of soft-spoken, quiet and dignified street hustler much more impressive than the rest of film.  Another hidden gem is Altagracia Guzman who gives great does of humanity to the role of overprotective grandmother of protagonist’s love interest Zulay (played by Colombian actress Zulay Henao). Their efforts, however, can’t compensate for the increasingly annoying defficiens of overcliched and utterly predictable script which makes FIGHTING look much longer than its 93 minutes of running time. Although watchable, this film has already lost its fight against descent into cinema oblivion.

RATING: 3/10

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