Movie Review: ‘Fighting’ with gloves off

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The title of the movie “Fighting” is self-explanatory for the type of movie it is, but what you don’t see in the previews is the strange pattern of how Marvin Gaye’s music and lyrics are intermingled in the plot. Or the humor.

The title of the movie “Fighting” is self-explanatory for the type of movie it is, but what you don’t see in the previews is the strange pattern of how Marvin Gaye’s music and lyrics are intermingled in the plot. Or the humor.

Lines like “A white kid who went to college. That’s amazing. How come I’ve never heard of you?" from the intense gambler Jack Dancing (played by Roger Guenveur Smith) get a chuckle, along with a plethora of other wisecracks throughout the film. Shawn MacArthur (played by Channing Tatum) is a guy with a mysterious past, who came from Birmingham, Alabama to New York to hustle his way to the top. He starts off the movie selling bootleg Harry Potter books, but after one fight, Harvey Boarden (played by Terrence Howard) sees a goldmine in Shawn’s scrapping skills. And then the bets come into play.

Fighting” is the common brawl movie about two people with cold-hearted tension and history, large amounts of money bet against one or the other, and criminals intermingled in the crowd. The history with Shawn’s opponent, Evan Hailey (played by Brian White), explains why Shawn left Alabama. Even though Shawn is ready to handle the fight, he’s not ready for the secret that his unsigned agent Harvey has been keeping from him.

And as with any movie with a main ‘man’s man’ character, there’s a woman to his liking, Zulay Valez (played by Zulay Henao), that he pursues when he’s not fighting. And with the boy-chase-girl scenes comes the comedy again with Valez’s crabby and blunt grandmother, Alba Guzman (played by Altagracia Guzman).

If you’ve seen a “Rocky” movie, then you’ve seen this film already. The only difference is these are street fights with no gloves, but weapons aren’t allowed. Those who live in major cities like Chicago may be interested in the similarities of New York and the Chi, including NY’s version of the Bucket Boys, the consistent hustling of just about everything by the subway trains and Harvey proclaiming "I’m from a place with some culture. Chicago." The plot wasn’t unique, but the humor (and Channing Tatum with his trademark teeth gritting that he does in every movie when he’s mad) made it interesting to watch. I’d give this movie 3 out of 5 stars.

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Copyright 2009 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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