This 2009 bare-knuckle action drama with the overly long and complicated name and is directed by Dito Montiel who previously wrote the book and directed the 2006 A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints movie about his life growing up in Astoria, Queens. Anyway, Fighting stars Terrance Howard (of I want more money for Iron Man 2 fame) and Channing Tatum (of Step Up and soon to be Public Enemies and Gi Joe fame) and is the story of Shawn MacArthur (Channing) who after moving to NY struggles to make ends meet by selling counterfeit goods. A chance encounter with Harvey Boarden (Howard) a hustler and street fighting coach brings him into the world of high stakes bare knuckle fighting. Is this the chance he’s been looking for to make some green, or will he only be seeing red in the end?
When we left the theater I overheard something someone said and I just couldn’t stop laughing. Basically a group of girls walked out of the Fighting screening, and one of them said something prompting a complete stranger, a guy around the age of 27, the demographic for this film, to turn around shell-shocked. Penny and I will re-enact the scene.
Penny: Man that was amazing.
Man: (turning around wide-eyed) Amazing? Alright.
I just thought that was hilarious, just the shocked look on the guys face. To be fair, Channing Tatum was shirtless for most of the movie so that fact may have prompted her response. But anyway, so Penny was Fighting like the girl said amazing, or should Channing Tatum just stick to dancing?
For a movie called simply fighting, a movie that finds its basis in the fact that there will be fighting, the fighting scenes stunk. Basically it was like a bunch of drunks at a bar fight. There was no skill involved, just punch, punch, push, Channing wins. There are a lot of fast cuts that I’m sure are there to accentuate the action, making it seem fast and fierce, but all the cuts did for me was to make the action to quick paced so you couldn’t really see any technique. You’re better off going to a bar at night and watching drunks fight. Save your money and grab a beer.
What’s worse is that there are real fighters here, I mean one of Channings opponents is current Strikeforce Middleweight champion Cung Le, as Dragon Lee (big stretch) and he’s busting out all these real submission and fighting moves, and he easily gets beat by Channing after a few punches. The whole movie was, bad guy throws a bunch of kicks and punches, beating Channing badly, Channing punches the guy twice and the guy hits his head on a random sink, Channing wins. Again for a movie called simply Fighting, the actual Fighting was silly.
The whole plot is also ridiculous. I mean the movie’s explanation for anything makes no sense. The reason why Stephen is living on the streets, why he had a falling out with his father, why he doesn’t like the main bad guy, what is Terrance Howard’s Harvey’s backstory, who are the group of bad guys, nothing, nothing makes sense. I mean seriously, they try to explain things and it just makes things more confusing. Now I don’t expect a great plot from these kind of movies, but my god, this is like watching an episode of Lost and then that’s all you get, that one episode. Just terrible, not even clichéd because I can’t even tell you the why’s of this movie.
Let’s talk a little about the romance. Channing’s character Shawn falls in love with a nightclub busgirl named Zulay (Zulay Henao, they really went crazy with the names here), and while they are both equally hot, the chemistry between them felt forced and their scenes together felt awkward. And I say forced because it was basically set up where Channing sees Zulay, he likes her, stalks her a bit and then they have sex. I was like, “I get that Channing is a good looking guy but come on.”
Now I have to admit, from the trailers and commercials, I was looking forward to seeing this one. If anything I thought, a much lesser Rocky, a sports underdog movie, and I always, and I mean always love those. But yeah, I could forgive this film for its poor plot if it had good action and I just didn’t think the action was any good. Sure there were a lot of beefcakes, but bare-chested men are not enough of a thing to sway me, so I’m giving this a, “sneak out/I want my money back rating.” A movie that I somehow find worse than 2008’s Never Back Down, with the equally hunky Cam Gigandet, and that movie was terrible.