My testosteroniness has just been challenged by watching Fighting. And I failed. Again. Despite my inherent tendency to say the wrong things at the most inopportune of moments, I have never been involved in a fight (well, there was a minor scuffle once, in which some trumped-up little bastard redhead kid in high school tried to get me to fight him, but I successfully avoided it by getting somebody else to do it for me). I suppose the fact that I am a complete and total wimp may be behind it all. My rather femme and frail physique also contributes heavily to my cowardice. As such, movies like Fighting just sort of go over my head.
In the case of the movie Fighting itself, I found it to be about as much as I expected it to be — not a lot. And yet, were I a really big, beefy, tall guy that wears a really gay-looking seashell necklace, I probably still would’ve been disappointed in this film. In essence, Fighting has absolutely nothing going for it. The story has been done way too many times to come out as anything but unoriginal. And the characters are about as cliché as they come — without making any of them big, beefy, tall guys wearing really gay-looking seashell necklaces.
Set in the Big Apple, Fighting is the tale of a young street hustler named Shawn (one Tatum Channing, who resembles a low-rent American cross between Clive Owen and Daniel Craig here). When his daily routine of selling phony Harry Potter books and iPod knock-offs goes awry, he winds up partnering with another two-bit hustler named Harvey (Terrence Howard, who is surely thanking his lucky stars for ditching Iron Man 2 for movies of this caliber). As is usually the case in movies about fighting, Harvey does the occasional recruitment job for underground fights, in which Shawn battles a few opponents sponsored by a few other shiftier-than-shifty fellers (including Luis Guzman and Roger Guenveur Smith).
Along the way, Shawn meets and falls for an unwed mother of one (Zulay Henao). As the fights become more physically intense and the air becomes harder to breathe from the “bad guys,” Shawn starts to dream of escaping from New York (insert Snake Plissken remark here) and the shadiness that every eccentric character he’s met so far seems to have about them.
Like I said, it’s nothing new. And yet, there was still something semi-watchable about it. Perhaps it was because I was busy bagging and boarding comic books at the time, but I didn’t get the urge to eject Fighting from the player and pick a row with it (which was probably a wise move considering I would‘ve lost anyway). The photography is fine. The direction from Dito Montiel (who also co-wrote) is more than adequate. Surprisingly enough, the film’s star, Tatum Channing, emerges in the end looking like an actual actor (something I did not foresee happening). Terrence Howard also does a swell job as con man Harvey Boarden, donning a soft-spoken Eastern accent that makes the character a refreshing change of pace from the usual “obnoxiously loud guy from Brooklyn.”
On Blu-ray, Fighting looks like it has more going for it than it actually does. The 1080p/VC-1 1.85:1 widescreen presentation is a very clear, well-balanced matter. The movie carries a rather grey tone to it as it is, but the colors still manage to shine through in the end. The DTS-HD Master Audio Lossless 5.1 soundtrack also holds up quite well. Some of the “quieter” scenes (of which there are more than a few) don’t give your surround sound the workout it might be needing, but the grander fight scenes bring out the best in it. Additional sound options include French and Spanish 5.1 DTS Surround. Subtitles are provided in English (SDH), French, and Spanish.
Universal’s release of Fighting contains both an unrated cut as well as the original theatrical version. Apart from your ability to choose between each version, the special features here are limited to a handful of deleted scenes. That’s it.
In the long run, Fighting is by no means the next Rocky. It’s a rehash of several other (often better) films, plain and simple. But, as far as finding something to pass the time with, there are far worse Tatum Channing movies out there.