Unrated & Theatrical Versions
Directed by Dito Montiel
Starring Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard, Zulay Henao, Luis Guzman
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: August 25, 2009
Fighting tells the story on a down-and-out young man named Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) who gets by selling cheap products on the streets of New York City. When one of his transactions doesn’t go so well, he finds himself in a fight with a few guys, who he handles with ease. Later that night, he sees a man who witnessed the earlier altercation, as well as a kid who grabbed his money. When he goes in to get what’s his, the man, named Harvey (Terrence Howard), makes him a proposition he just can’t refuse: the chance to fight and walk away with $5,000. He eventually gains a reputation in the city as an underground fighting talent, which leads to a possible showdown with a nemesis from his past, and a romance with a woman who may be hiding a secret.
The movie starts off all right at first, but as each moment passed by, it consistently lost control of itself, where it wanted to go, and what it wanted to be. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a movie that was so confused within itself before, and it was difficult to watch at times. Yes, the feared train wreck analogy is perfectly fitting here.
Fair warning, there are semi-spoilers after this point, though they’re not significant enough to alter what your experience will be.
When reviewing a movie, you have to be able to evolve past enjoying certain kinds of movies, and going in completely open to something. Entering a movie with this state of mind will shock you from time-to-time, and a movie you would never imagine yourself liking may just win you over. Sadly, sometimes they just try too hard, and while I try and remain objective, I also don’t like to pretend I liked something that I didn’t. This was one of those tragedies.
For example: when the movie starts off, and we find out that Shawn has an opportunity to fight for some money, and he states very clearly that he only cares about surviving and making some good money and that he would do it. Later on in the movie, the option to throw a fight and make an unbelievable amount of money comes up, and suddenly he cares more about his pride than the money. If this is a realization that he had, I would want to be told about it at some point. As it is, it seems like the film makers just weren’t paying attention to the progression of story. This also happens with the fighting in general. In his first fight, Shawn takes on a kid similar in size and strength to himself, but gets beat around like a outcast at recess. This beating takes place for a couple of minutes before Shaw, obviously frustrated, runs at the kid full speed and knocks him head first into a water fountain, which knocks him out cold. After the fight, people begin praising Shawn for his fighting skills — skills that we didn’t see in any way, shape, or form. After that fight, as the opponents got much larger, and much, much more talented, he seemingly got much better at fighting, and none of it felt right to me.
As the story moves forward, we discover that Shawn and the typical hot shot fighter who can’t be defeated, Evan Hailey (Brian J. White), have a past, and Hailey uses it to taunt Shawn over and over. They build this mysterious past up like it’s a really terrible thing, and that this secret could destroy Shawn. Actually, it’s the one thing you keep wanting to figure out. When the story unfolds, we discover that the two actually went to the same school and were on the wrestling team, and that during a scuffle between them, Shawn’s father got in between them, and in the heat of the moment, he beat up his father. Anyone hitting their father is a bad thing, but for this to be the big reveal they had built up over the movie was a giant cherry on top for me.
Many seemed to be very impressed with the acting in this movie, in the very least, but even that rubbed me the wrong way. The characters seemed to ramble a lot, and they used words unbelievable amounts of times (I don’t think even Wall Street used the word “money” as much as this movie did). Even respected actor Terrence Howard mumbled a lot and didn’t make much sense. In a movie like this, with a name like his, I’m counting on him to carry a large load, and it didn’t happen. The best actor on screen was easily Shawn’s young love interest Zulay’s (Zulay Henao — yes, it is strange that they used that particularly exotic name in the script as well) old grandmother (Altagracia Guzman) who’s amusingly old school.
The disc includes the option of watching the theatrical PG-13 version of the movie, as well as an unrated version. I went for the unrated selection, but I honestly can’t tell you why it’s called that. I’m not even sure if would get an R-rating if released in theaters. There MAY have been more than the allotted one f-bomb you get, but if that were the case I didn’t even notice. The fights really aren’t even all that violent. For this, I do not have answer. Thankfully they didn’t make people buy separate versions of the movie, because movies that sell it as UNRATED with those big, bold letters and don’t include anything that warrants it drives me absolutely batty.
For me personally, Fighting was not a movie that won me over at all. Even so, many people do seem to enjoy it enough. I guess that if you like an underdog story, and you like some underground fighting, you may find yourself having a good time with it. I can’t say I would recommend it to people, but it may just end up being your kind of dance, especially if you’re in love with Channing Tatum…which I am not.
Fighting has the bare minimum when it comes to the special features. You won’t even find the commentary track you find on every other DVD. All that’s included here is some deleted scenes to check out.