New York city is the scene for Channing Tatum in Fighting, a film about a young homeless man who winds up involved in the underground bare knuckle fighting scene with his manager, Terrence Howard, who is a former scam artist with a good heart. Fighting is a classic story of rags-to-riches but with a few differences thrown in amongst the obvious fight scenes that ensue.
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Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) has almost nothing to his name – no money, the clothes on his back and the nearest park bench for a bed. When he gets spotted in a street brawl by New Yorker scam artist, Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard), Shawn is offered the chance to make some serious money by joining the ‘exclusive’ Fighting scene where rich men bet on the fighters that poor men take part in.

After becoming friends with Harvey and his crew and a few fights under his belt, Shawn is offered bigger fights for more money. He’s also got his eye on nightclub worker, Zulay (Zulay Henao) who has the attentions of a few others including the cliche’d arch enemy from back home. Its not long before Shawn is asked to ‘throw’ fights to keep the bosses happy and rivalries flair up over girls and spilt drinks, which is where Fighting starts to get a bit silly and lose the plot a little bit.

The fight scenes are ok – we had hoped for some really exciting and long winded epic battles but to keep the ‘realism’ of the bare knuckle sport, the fights are shorter than expected but well choreographed. Some of the sound effects (especially of Shawn’s head hitting the tiled floor against the martial arts guy in a posh hotel) are better than the usual Hollywood ‘smacks’ that normally get dubbed in.

In between each fight there is a story which at first seems like a necessary stepping stone to build the action up for the next fighting encounter. However, the drama gets carried away with itself and as a result the whole film seems to get confused about what it actually is. There’s too much drama and storytelling to call this an all-out action/fighting film but with the fight scenes throw in and the environment surrounding the characters and the story, Fighting won’t appeal to pure drama fans in the same way as its next nearest rival, The Fighter.

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Shawn and Harvey – not quite Mickey & Rocky

Comparing Fighting to other similar films is too easy – after 15 minutes in to watching it is near impossible to make umpteen references to the brilliant Rocky films and even the aforementioned The Fighter. As a result, Fighting is already up against the ropes because its simply not as engrossing or well done as either one.

Overall, we were expecting a mediocre film from Fighting and that’s exactly what we got. There were no surprises, not enough of an engaging or fresh story and the film was too slow paced to get us into the excitement of the fight scenes when they happened, no matter how good they looked.

Fighting trailer:

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