Fighting (2009)

13 May 2009

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Fighting follows small-town boy Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) who has gone to New York City with nothing. Barely earning a living selling counterfeit goods on the streets, his luck changes when scam artist Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard) sees that he has a natural talent for streetfighting. When Harvey offers Shawn help at making the real cash, the two form an uneasy partnership. As Shawn’s manager, Harvey introduces him to the corrupt bare-knuckle circuit, where rich men bet on disposable pawns.

Almost overnight, he becomes a star brawler, taking down professional boxers, mixed martial arts champs and ultimate fighters in a series of staggeringly intense bouts. But if Shawn ever hopes to escape the dark world in which he’s found himself, he must now face the toughest fight of his life.

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"Coach Carter meets the Ultimate Fighter - kind of... "

Before I start scrutinising this film, I have a little something to get off my chest. It's just one word. Continuity. I do not understand how films with 10's of millions of dollars worth of budget can get such a simple thing so wrong. If you go and watch Fighting, just look at the state of the umbrella box after the restaurant scene and you'll see what irks me so.

Anyway I digress - back to the film. The format is well known. Kid with dodgy background finds something he's good at and everything turns out rosy. Fighting approaches the genre from a different perspective. Gone is the tough but fair mentor to keep the kid on the straight and a narrow. Gone is the wholesome activity into which the troubled child can sink his teeth into. Instead these are replaced with a down and out hustler (Terrence Howard) and the gritty world of illegal underground fighting.

Where Fighting comes unstuck is that the focal point of the film - the bare knuckle brawls - appear to be trying to hit two birds with one stone, and as a result miss both. Whilst they are intense, they are two brief to provide any real wow factor, and the technique involved is so woeful as to make any true Mixed Martial Arts fan retch.

Fighting therefore finds itself in the relying on the quality of the story and acting to pull it through. Despite good turns by Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard, and a fantastic cameo by Altagracia Guzman, there was an inherent lethargy behind the story film, with scant attention paid to character development or history.

Fighting was never destined to be a classic. Unfortunately it also falls short on the entertainment front - by straddling the action/feel good genres it fails to fulfil the expectations of either, stranded forever in cinema limbo.

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  • Release Date
  • 28 September 2009
  • Technical Features / Extras
  • Extended Cut
  • Deleted Scenes