Fighting

2009-07-23 17:06
 
Fighting

What it’s about:

A young street vendor (Channing Tatum) is recruited by a hustler (Terrence Howard) into New York’s underground bare-knuckle fighting world.

What we thought:

You’ve gotta love a movie that just comes right out and says what it’s about: fighting. In this case, though, it’s a genre that’s already crowded with some great (and less than great) films. From Raging Bull to Rocky to Blood Sport to Fight Club, pugilistic flicks have pretty much covered the available terrain. It would have to be a movie that aims for something quite startlingly different to stand out.

Fighting, however, doesn’t even try to come up with a new variation on the theme. Its plot has been rehashed in countless permutations before: a scrappy youngster, down on his luck, tries to make a name for himself in the big, bad city. All of the archetypes are in place: the wise mentor, the gorgeous love interest, the unbeatable arch-rival. Rather than come up with something new, Fighting goes for the element that is usually lacking in the genre: realism.

With the explosion in popularity of full-contact bloodsports – mixed martial arts, UFC, K-1, and other flavours – fighting aficionados these days know what a real fight looks like. It’s quick – often you won’t even see the blow that finishes the bout. It’s messy, sweaty and bloody. And it’s chaotic: most punches won’t connect properly, and soon both combatants have gone to the ground where grappling takes over. Fighting gets all of these details right. There’s not a slow-mo shot to be seen, none of Guy Ritchie’s overly-stylised violence, and the actors manage to convince us that the blows actually hurt like hell.

It spells out the film’s target audience pretty clearly: this movie is for people who like to watch fighting, no explanations needed. There’s none of Fight Club’s preaching about getting back in touch with one’s masculinity. There’s no talk of the nobility of one-on-one combat. It’s simply because we like to watch two men beat each other to a bloody pulp.

Beneath this veneer of simplicity, though, the movie manages to slip in a lot of heart. Channing Tatum is convincing as the country boy who’s aware that he’s swimming with sharks – he’s out of his depth, scared, and his cockiness fools no-one. Terrence Howard is magnetic, bringing a lot of what made his breakout performance in Hustle & Flow so mesmerising: a reluctant grifter, never quite at home with the sleaziness required to get by in his world. But it’s the relationship between the two men that really draws the viewer in. Somewhere on the shaky ground between their mutual mistrust and affection, they attempt to build the only friendship that either of them has. Think Midnight Cowboy rather than Karate Kid. Thankfully, director Dito Montiel gives this relationship the breathing room it needs to unfold on screen – he’s in no hurry to get to the next fight scene – and it elevates the movie from its wispy plot to something approaching a serious film.

It’s no great work of art, but I went in expecting nothing but flying fists, and came out with a satisfyingly human story. That’s more than enough reward from a film simply called Fighting.


There’s way more beneath the surface of a movie simply titled Fighting. We discover the wounded heart beating inside this bare knuckled bruiser.

Howard 2009/07/24 7:58 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
I understand we live in a world that is less than perfect, and people physcially fighting has been occuring since humans have existed. However do we need to fuel this uncivilised need to watch two people beat each other, Do we need to have our children watch this and believe that this is the way to behave, personally i dont think so, and by looking at our countries over crowded jails i think we can do without this movie.
Gaelen 2009/07/24 8:59 AM
Correction: This is a movie for people who like fighting, and those who like Channing Tatum. :)
@Howards 2009/07/24 9:37 AM
Don't be such a little girl Howard,Your kids are gonna grow up to be gaylords,Wake up,Its 2009,Violence is EVERYWHERE,why,I even kicked a taxi drivers teeth down his throat on my way to work. =D
Big R 2009/07/24 10:09 AM
But i like Fight Club!!
Samura Jack 2009/07/24 10:40 AM
I like these movies,because i am a fighter myself and there is nothing better to watch than a real fight ,speed stamina and power. It is nothing like in the blockbuster hollywood movies and its good to see a "decent" fight where its more realistic. "never back down" was rather close enough to realism , kinda. On the other side of the coin these movies dont show glory in a bloody face and may actually refrain kids from climbing into someone without thinking.
Ben 2009/07/24 10:46 AM
UFC! UFC! UFC! August 8. UFC 101. Gonna be good!!
@Samura Jack 2009/07/24 11:09 AM
Just a correction: there is at least 24000 things better to watch than a real fight.
CTheB 2009/07/24 11:28 AM
@Howard - of course not. I have yet to be forced to watch a movie. Don't like it, don't watch it. Or show your kids Fight Club where they make it clear that there's no point to the fighting. The fighting is a metaphor. In this case it doesn't sound like it, though. And at least bare-fist fighting is better than boxing.
@Howard 2009/07/24 11:48 AM
Then I should also not let my son see or even hear of the ppl that are shot, raped, abused etc, etc.... But the truth is that this is life. I am not going to fill his world with fluffy ideas of everything being nice because I did not tell him the truth about these things. I will tell him and show him what happens yet I will also tell him that it is not acceptable behavior. To let him know what happens in real life is a far greater gift and prepares him for the real world instead of keeping blinkers on him and lying to him resulting in him being naieve and believing the world is fluffy and nice when it isnt.
Troll 2009/07/24 12:29 PM
A wonderful article. Thanks for the read.
@Howard 2009/07/24 12:41 PM
Dude don't be so naive. I've practiced martial arts for 21 years and one thing it has taught me is to always avoid a fight if you can. You never know what knowledge another man possesses. We live in an age where the helpless and weak are preyed upon. Fighting isn't the answer but your kids must know the reality of a fight and rather they experience it through a film than an alley. The concept of fighting is quickly changing. If you look at MMA, the combatants are all athletes who aren't in there to destroy but to test their knowledge of martial arts. It all comes down to education. It's always the sheltered ones who tend to explode later on in life. I dig these films yet I've only been in 2 brawls my whole life. The first one was over a very cool looking marble in a school yard. The second was to get it back ;)
HogWash 2009/07/24 4:21 PM
if you going to do a movie like this then get some proper actors not a bunch of unknown teenagers... i mean really how we supposed to take a movie like this serious???this movie appeals to teenagers, i'm sure my 14 year old nieces will enjoy this but i am a 28 year old man and this is like soft porn so to speak....
Finn Gregory 2009/07/24 5:23 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
@HogWash: Actually, the acting is a strong point - the leads all fit their roles admirably, and their relative obscurity suits the 'underground' nature of the movie. If there were more 'Hollywood' faces, I think it would have diminished the effectiveness of the film.
brian 2009/07/25 2:09 AM
i was part of the fighting group - barefist knuckle fighters - in the late 1960's. i was in school in JOHANNESBURG and from the age of 15 until i went into the army we had ' COMPETITIONS ' on wednesday afternoons and mostly on SATURDAY nights. these were at ' secret arenas ' and i enjoyed doing this. this took place very late at night and only after i had finished 'work' as a doorman at the nightclub - PLUMB CRAZY - i was working at to earn extra money for my parents. i was a big boy and everyone thought i was 18 years old whereas i was only 16years old. this is bringing back many memories and feelings on how i actually went about ' hurting ' others for the sake of getting a high. anyway it was around in those days and i made more money on - FIGHT NIGHT - than my dad was working A FULL SIX DAYS A WEEK. i went into the army and volunteered for the army unit - THAT HAD THE BIG BUSHY BEARDS - this is what i always wanted to do after watching the movie THE GREEN BERETS. we started a fight club in the army and had - COMPS - against other DEFENCE FORCE units that were ' interested ' in this SPORTS ACTIVITY. you know what was really strange , is that most of the fighters always looked forward in taking part. we had RULES and gamesmanship , and if you broke the RULES you were dealt with right away. i was with the ' NAUGHTY BOYS ' for many years and enjoyed my time there and it took many years of 'TALKING THRU ' to get myself back into the NORMAL WORLD of SOCIETY. once you in this FIGHT WORLD it takes a lot longer to get over it.
tmh. 2009/07/25 3:27 PM
Fight Club was godly.
PRESHEN GOVENDER 2009/07/28 1:25 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Hunky, half naked guys with beef cake muscles beating the $hit out of each other what more can you ask for
NEXT ON CHANNELX
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.