Starring: Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard, Luis Guzman, Zulay Henao
Director: Dito Montiel
Writer(s): Robert Munic, Dito Montiel
Cinematography: Stefan Czapsky
Running Time: 105 Mins.
All too often does a film’s marketing campaign get it oh so wrong, case in point being Fighting, the second feature from director Dito Montiel, that his first was A Guide To Recognising Your Saints should tell you enough to know that Fighting is not, as the poster and marketing campaign suggests “the new Rocky“, nor as Channing Tatum’s presence would have many believe is it Step Up with fists. No, this is a solid character study of two down at heel men struggling to make their way in the harsh reality of life in New York, much like AGTRYS then, just , well, with a smattering of fighting.
The strength of the film lies with Montiel’s ability to bring the harshness of New York to life over the glamourous side all too often shown in Sex and the City etc. this is a living breathing place where anything goes, and everyday is a struggle, it may sound heavy but Fighting never becomes too bogged down with its own self worth, something helped no end by yet another sincere and deep performance by Tatum. He is an actor whom seems to get by on his pretty boy looks yet has a great deal more talent than many of his peers, and in choosing roles in films such as Fighting serve only to prove he is more worthy, let us just hope he doesn’t throw his credibilty away this Summer with G I Joe: The Rise of Cobra!
Tatum is Shawn MacArthur, first seen selling rip-off Harry Potter books on the street we get the gist from the off, he’s down on his luck, living rough and eeking out a living, times are hard, enter Terence Howard as Harvey Boarden, a hustler in effect who missed his chance to make it big, we learn, because of an ‘old friend’ (Luis Guzman) who took all the glory. Harvey takes Shawn under his wing and sets him on the path to big money fighting. Imagine Oliver set in New York, with a smattering of fights.
What makes Fighting so watchable, and most importantly, engaging, is the relationship between the two men, they are both lost souls (which sounds cliched but thankfully isn’t ) and are on the path to seek some form of redemption for past errors. Yes you know the outcome ,but the acting that Montiel pulls from both of them is deep and effecting.
It is very rare a location becomes a character in itself though, Ben Affleck achieved it to great effect in Gone Baby Gone and Push made a good fist of it with Tokyo, but Montiel is a master and combined with AGTRYS he has put forth one of the best interpretations of New York seen on film. Every inch looks alive yet almost soul-less and as Harvey says to Shawn, “I’m from Chicago, somewhere with soul”, thankfully they bring that soul with them to the film, if not the city itself.
Essentially a three hander between two hugely talented actors, and a living breathing city. Don’t let the title deceive you, Fighting is not “the new Rocky“, it’s hardly revolutionary but hugely satisfying.