To be blunt, Fighting is no Fight Club. While both films are set in the brutal world of underground fighting, that is where the similarities end. Fighting tells the story of small-town boy Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) who is trying to make his way in New York City.
In an “only in Hollywood” plot twist, Shawn catches the attention of manager Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard), who introduces him to the world of bare-knuckled street fighting. Soon he is in the back rooms of the Bronx, duking it out for increasingly lucrative paychecks.
The clichés fly as furiously as the punches when Shawn meets beautiful waitress Zulay (Zulay Heneo), who actually falls for the big lug. Then there is the “coincidental” appearance of his arch-nemesis Evan Hailey (Brian White). Back in Alabama, Shawn and Evan were on the wrestling team together, which was coached by Shawn’s father.
All of the elements come together in an unsurprising, yet perfectly serviceable conclusion. While the action sequences in Fighting are superb, they are too brief. This is undoubtedly because the studio was looking for a PG-13 rating, which they received.
It may be unfair to compare Fighting to Fight Club, but that’s the arena the filmmakers chose, and that is what the packaging emphasizes. Fighting is really a simple coming-of-age film, with a few punch-outs thrown in to offset the maudlin storyline.
The DVD contains both the theatrical version of the film, and an unrated version. The unrated version adds three minutes of fighting, scenes which are a little more graphic, but not much. Frankly, I think even with the additional footage, the film still would have been rated PG-13.
As for bonus features, there are five deleted scenes. Although Luis Guzman is probably the biggest name in the film, his character is woefully underused. The one deleted scene which features him actually explains a key plot point, why it was deleted is a bit of a mystery.
Overall, Fighting is basically a teen flick with some action for the boys, and a love story for their dates. On that modest level, Fighting accomplishes everything it attempts.