Friday, June 05, 2009

FIGHTING: Lame And Tame

FIGHTING (drama)
Cast: Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard, Zulay Henao, Brian J. White, Luis Guzmán, Roger Guenveur Smith, Angelic Zambrana and Anthony DeSando
Writer-Director: Dito Montiel
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

Tatum and White in FIGHTING

PREAMBLE: The title and the trailer can be misleading. They give the impression that this movie is about a killer of a street fighter who must risk his life for love, honour and survival. Or something like The Fight Club, perhaps.

Well, after watching this tame and sometimes lame flick, let's say that 'Brawling' would be more appropriate...

THE SKINNY: Playing almost the same type of character as in dance flick Step Up (2006), Channing Tatum is Shawn MacArthur, a small-town boy from Alabama who has come to New York City to start a new life. He makes a living selling counterfeit goods on the streets, and gets involved in brawls.

Shawn's luck changes when con artist Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard) introduces him to the bare-knuckle underground fighting circuit where rich folks bet on the amateur fighters. Almost overnight, Shawn becomes a star brawler, taking down professional boxers and ruthless fighters.

He meets a pretty waitress named Zulay (Zulay Henao) and falls for her but if Shawn ever hopes to escape the dark world in which he's found himself, he must face the toughest fight of his life..

HITS & MISSES: All would have been forgiven if the fight scenes were realistic and intensive. However, most of these sequences look phoney and uninspired. The movie's plot contrivances are blatantly obvious: Besides the romantic interest, the movie is badly in need of a villain - and viola, we have Evan Hailey (Brian J. White), an old rival from high school who has such a bad history with Shawn that they have to slug it out as per the demands of the script.

To be fair, the love story between Shawn and Zulay is compelling enough as Tatum and Henao display chemistry. But then this is not a love story. As expected, Howard gives another memorable performance as the smooth-talking Harvey. In fact, his Harvey becomes such an enigma that we expect to see some dark side of him bursting out. Alas, like the rest of the film, there are no such surprises.

THE LOWDOWN: Not worth the trouble.

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