Fighting (2009)

(In theaters, April 2009) There’s far more drama and far less fighting in this picture than you might expect. While most bare-knuckles-fighting movies beef up their action with an insubstantial plot, this film seems like it was first conceived as a hustling drama with fighting scenes penciled in. The tension could have revolved around chess-playing that it wouldn’t have changed much to the overall impact of the film. Alas, this approach leads to perfunctory fighting scenes that barely affect the characters and leave no lasting memories. As it is, Fighting is bit dull, and hardly deserving of any “action” designation. As a drama, it’s definitely centered around New York hustlers, which limits its appeal somewhat: Channing Tatum’s lead character knows how to fight and flirt, while Terrence Howard as his new best friend (and agent) remains steadfastly stuck in his cloying wimp mode. Zulay Henao isn’t too bad as the perfunctory love interest, but the rest of the picture is simply too dull and convenient to warrant much attention. With better filmmakers willing to cut away at the endless “dramatic” scenes, this could have been turned into a far more interesting picture, even it would have erred on the side of exploitation.

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