FIGHTING is an unexpected form of bad

Never make assumptions. Judging from the supremely unenticing title and a trailer that suggested a generic punch em up with all the depth and insight of a Dolph Lundgren movie, I went in certain of having a very bad time. Instead, I get a piece steeped

Never make assumptions. Judging from the supremely unenticing title and a trailer that suggested a generic punch 'em up with all the depth and insight of a Dolph Lundgren movie, I went in certain of having a very bad time.

Instead, I get a piece steeped in the attitudes and style of 70s cinema, a character piece that tries to fuse Midnight Cowboy and Rocky.

It is still a bad film, but it was an entirely different bad film to the one I was expecting.

Shawn (Tatum) is a strapping lad trying to make his way on the streets of New York who runs into down on his luck hustler Harvey (Howard).


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On the most skimpy of evidence Harvey decides that he has what it takes to make it in the world of illegal, no-holds-barred, bare-knuckle brawling and starts to fix up fights for him.

There are no Twin Towers and everybody has mobiles, but this feels like a pre-Guiliani Big Apple. The soundtrack is certainly working under the assumption that it is accompanying a blaxploitation movie.

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Throughout there's something just a little off about this movie - Shawn never really convinces as a pugilist and flukes his first victory. His second bout takes place in the backyard behind a convenience store against an opponent who looks like a gigantic version of Mini-me.

All the time I was half expecting some kind of twist, that it was all a dream. This disconcerting feeling extends to the characters. Howard is a charismatic performer but in his eagerness to make something of his role he tries too hard; erratic sentence stress is no substitute for a good character.

Tatum though is the workhorse, the one who has to carry the movie, the one who's aiming to become a star. He looks somehow to be a fusion of every young movie actor who ever got to be dubbed the New James Dean.

His role is that time-honoured testing ground for the rising star - the inarticulate good-hearted brute in a white T-shirt. But he blows it, coming across as a smart kid earnestly acting dumb.

Fighting (15)

Director Dito Montiel Starring Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard, Luis Guzman, Zulay Henao, Brian White. 104 mins

Three stars

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