Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Left Fighting The Urge To Like This Movie

When a movie comes along that has a silly name, I for one don't hold out much hope for a good movie, when the one word name is "Fighting" I hold out even less hope. So it was a pleasant surprise to sit through a movie that had a story, not just sweaty men beating each other to a pulp. Not saying that is a bad thing, but in a movie you want substance.

Young Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) is reduced to selling bootlegs on the streets to survive in his new found home of New York City. While selling bootlegs he is accosted by several young street thugs, in a fight to protect his property, he loses his stash of cash. He sees who picks it up and gives chase, he is blocked by the leader of the young men. Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard), is a street hustler, he has moved to New York from the bustle of Chicago. He along with a few friends from his past run some underground bare knuckle street fights. In these street fights the rich yuppies who won't or can't do the fighting bet huge sums of money on the fighter of their choice. As Shawn is walking from a store where he just bough umbrella's he spots both the young man he saw take his money, and Harvey sitting, eating in a restaurant. He walks in and tells Harvey that he wants his money back, Harvey says he liked Shawn's style in the fight, and that he can make him a lot of money if Shawn will let Harvey manage him.

Agreeing to at least meet the people that Harvey says he knows, Shawn is, from the start out of his element, these men dress fancy and spend money at clubs like it's water passing through their fingers. One of the men who came to New York with Harvey is Martinez (Luis Guzman), who actually broke Harvey's leg with a baseball bat. After Shawn's first victory, Shawn becomes an instant celebrity, the fight is in a church and lasts just a few minutes, that night at a club, Martinez tells Shawn that powerful people will try to steal him away from Harvey. Harvey finds Shawn asleep on a park bench and offers him a place to sleep, he even tells him if he needs money that there are sneakers, concert and play tickets he can scalp. When Harvey asks him to throw a fight, Shawn in need of money, still insists upon his code of honor and refuses to throw a fight.

A couple of the guys who work with Harvey at first don't like Shawn, but as he wins fight after fight they come around. Ajax (Michael Rivera), Ray Ray (Flaco Navaja) and Z (Peter Tambakis) start to root for Shawn. When the guys are celebrating Shawn's victory they go to a club and there they run into a rival of Shawn's from back home (I know, I know cliche time). Evan Hailey (Brian J. White) was a team member on a wrestling team that was coached by Shawn's father. One day they two got into a fist fight and stepping between his son and prize pupil, Shawn accidentally punched his father, not being able to live with what he's done, Shawn runs away from home. Shawn meets a cocktail waitress names Zulay Valez (Zulay Henao) and he right away likes here, she was one of his customers the morning he was attacked. He takes his time to get to know Zulay, he doesn't push her or make her life worse than it is. When he finally gets Zulay to go out with him, its to grab a quick bite to eat. The date is over even before it begins, Shawn keeps "running" into Zulay and she takes him back to her apartment, in one of the movies funnier scenes Shawn is continually harassed by Zulay's grandmother Alba (Altagracia Guzman).

Telling Harvey that he needs money, Harvey sets up a fight with the one guy that has been looking to fight Shawn, Evan. The fight is for big money, a hundred grand to the winner. Shawn wants to win, but Harvey says he can't, he thinks he has talked Shawn into throwing the fight and we next see Harvey going around to collect large sums of money to have Zulay place bets. The big money guy is Jack Dancing (Roger Guenveur Smith), he is also one of Harvey's friends from Chicago. Harvey tells Zulay to place a five hundred thousand dollar bet against Shawn. The day of the big fight draws near and Shawn has found out the hard way that Zulay and Harvey have a past, so now we are made to think that maybe Shawn will set Harvey up to take a fall.

When Harvey gets the money he goes to a couple of large money stockbrokers and also to Martinez. They both mention that if Harvey tries anything that he is a dead man. The day arrives and Shawn and Evan face off. The fight is brutal but it isn't made a part of the continuation of the story, who wins and who loses is logical if you think about it, it doesn't really matter to the story, the real story is the building friendship between Zulay and Shawn. Where this leaves Harvey is right where he started when Shawn came along.

I give Fighting a 3 and on my avoidance scale a 1. I really didn't want to like this story, the title alone gave me pause before I even went in to see it. I for one am glad I gave this movie a chance, you will be too. You may just find yourself liking this movie if you give it a chance, if you see it while it's in the theatres you won't be disappointed.

Fighting is rated PG-13 for Intense Fight Sequences, Some Sexuality and Brief Strong Language
Running time is 1 hr. 45 mins.

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