When Shawn McArthur (Channing Tatum) is robbed of his meager second hand books on the streets of Manhattan, he fights back - and is noticed by Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard), a wheeler dealer who recognizes Shawn's superior fighting skills. He persuades Shawn to take on an underground fight worth $5,000 to the winner. The impoverished out of towner accepts and his success leads to more and bigger fights. Meanwhile he falls for Zulay (Zulay Valez), a young single mom, and runs into childhood friend and now enemy, Evan Hailey (Brian White), who brings with him the baggage of Shawn's demons from the past. When Harvey sets up the biggest fight for Shawn, it's against Evan and the purse is $250,000 in a winner take all rooftop fight. And Harvey wants Shawn to take a dive so he can bet big against him, using borrowed money.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There's absolutely nothing wrong with Fighter, yet it leaves little resonance and feels lightweight even as we watch it unfold. Channing Tatum is a credible young man tormented by a feud with his father, Terrence Howard is terrific as the man with an eye on the main chance, Zulay Valez is lovely and multi-dimensional as the young woman who inspires Shawn, Luis Guzman is grittily real as Martinez, a competitor of Harvey's in the street hustling business and the extensive support cast are all marvellous.
The story is well told, and it's layered, but without enough hooks into the characters to do more than keep our attention for the duration. The fight scenes are superbly staged, and mostly well shot, providing a genuine onlooker experience. This may help sell the film to the market that has a taste for fighting action.
Dito Montiel's previous film was the semi-autobiographical A Guide to Recognising Your Saints, about the hero figures of his youth. He knows the streets and the characters who live on them, and brings chunky veracity to the film, well aided by Stefan Czapsky's cinematography and supported by the score from Jonathan Elias and David Wittman.
Entertaining and engaging, Fighting has action, romance and a buddy element in a tight, professional package.
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CAST: Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard, Zulay Henao, Michael Rivera, Peter Tambakis, Luis Guzman, Anthony De Sando
PRODUCER: Kevin Misher
DIRECTOR: Dito Montiel
SCRIPT: Dito Montiel, Robert Munic
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stefan Czapsky
EDITOR: Saar Klein, Jake Pushinsky
MUSIC: Jonathan Elias, David Wittman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Thérèse DePrez
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 27, 2009