A Review by Jason L. King
Starring: Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard, Brian J. White
Directed by: Dito Montiel
Rated: PG13 for brief language and violence
Movie Released: 2009
I love it when you can go blindly into a movie by looking at the title only, and yet still believe you know exactly what this film is about. So, when I looked at the title of the film Fighting, I was lead to believe that this film is about fighting. I suppose the film did center itself around the title premise, but not enough to truly title the film Fighting. After all, for a film about fighting, there sure wasn’t a lot of fighting going on….
Fighting is the story of a homeless, down on his luck street hustler (Channing Tatum) who is taken in by street wise con (Terrence Howard). Together the two of them begin promoting Tatum’s character in local, small time underground fights in an attempt to get rich quick.
Like I said before, the film is titled Fighting, with very little fighting in it. So at least on that front, the film fails miserably. And to top it off, the film features a very non-climactic film ending fight. Surrounding this tale about a guy who beats the snot out of other people who like to beat the snot out of people, we have a bad love story, a poorly explained back story and a clan of very one dimensional characters that few will care about.
Channing Tatum is terrible in this flick. I know that many will ask did I expect more? Not really. Tatum is there are eye candy for girls and not much more. However, Tatum is one of those people whom I assume girls like to look at but wished they didn’t talk. It’s kind of like what guys think when they see Jessica Simpson. None the less, they let Tatum speak in this film, and speak he does. He sounds like a mentally challenged circus monkey, blubbering through lines that he must have heard just minutes before. Acting along side him is Terrence Howard, who I KNOW can make a good film. However, here he just doesn’t stand a chance. His street wise con character is so boring and one dimensional it is hard to even care about his existence. Mix that in with a soft spoken, breathy, nasally charged speech pattern he gives the character and you actually quickly begin to wish that Howard was off the screen.
The story behind Fighting is never truly explained, which may be the reason I cared even less about the characters involved. We have no idea why Tatum is homeless, but we do know it has something to do with a falling out with his wrestling (or martial arts?) coach and father. Apparently we find through Tatum’s love interest’s “ASK.COM” search that he punched his Dad out, and then his Dad coached some other kid to victory. It just so happens that he must fight this kid in the end. Side note: Who in the world uses ASK.COM? I mean c’mon, I know people “Google” people all the time. So much so that “googled” has become a word. But how many times has someone ASK.Com’d you? Anyhow, all that aside, when asked about his past, Tatum’s character begins pout and tells them to never talk about his Dad. On the other hand, apparently Terrence Howard’s character is a con artist, who helps out homeless kids. His back story is poorly revealed as having something to do with one of the “big time” under ground fight promoters (played by Luis Guzman) but had a falling out for some reason.
One would hope that even if poor character development was an issue, you would think a movie about fighting would at least have cool fights. We see Tatum punch out a street thug, then we see him fight a pretty boy and get his butt kicked. He wins only by accidentally throwing the kid head first into a water fountain. He then fights a 400 lb Mexican man that goes no where. He fights a martial arts master and then finally his father’s apprentice. Sadly enough you really don’t care about any of these fights. In fact, many of the fights he is losing so badly you have a very hard time believing that he could actually win anything, especially against these supposed “great underground fighters.”
The only redeeming thing I took from this movie was a performance by Brian J. White (I know him most notably as Tavon from “The Shield”). It’s nice to see him working even if he is playing a stereotyped, one dimensional character. Since first seeing White on The Shield, I’ve always enjoyed the “cool, smooth talking” characters he plays. But he’s not in this movie nearly enough to make a difference, and much like Terrence Howard any abilities he has as an actor are stifled by the stench of this film’s story line.
I wish I could say I found enjoyment in Fighting, but I simply did not. For 2 hours I stared at the TV screen and thought to myself, “There are so many better things I could be doing with my time.” Sadly enough I continued to watch. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If you want a film about “Fighting” pick up something like Fight Club and skip this one all together.