• 3 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(13 user reviews)
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The tell-it-as-it-is title hardly indicates anything out of the ordinary, but this bare-knuckle boxing flick is put together with more love than you’d expect. The set-up’s bog standard: brawny Southerner Channing Tatum is barely scraping by on the streets of Manhattan, so two-bit hustler Terrence Howard ushers him into the world of no-holds-barred street fighting, arranged for the delectation of big-betting high-rollers.

Facing opponents twice his size, Tatum needs all his determination to emerge intact, but with waitress Zulay Henao supplying the love-of-a-good-woman, well… need I go on? Still, if the movie has the body of a Jean-Claude Van Damme flick, it has the soul of, say, ‘Midnight Cowboy’, as if director Dito Montiel simply ignored the formula outline and filled in the margins with as much heart as the circumstances allowed.

Let’s be clear, this doesn’t make ‘Fighting’ anything approaching quality. But never mind the story, check the feel, as the camera seeks out scuzzy corners of New York, Tatum generates genuine sweetness in the romantic clinches and Howard plays his doomed small-time fixer as an exercise in bipolar melancholy. Meanwhile Henao’s Cuban granny Altagracia Guzman is a treasure and Roger Guenveur Smith provides Mr Big weirdness on a Walkenesque scale. A bit disappointing then to get back to chaps thumping each other, but the choreography’s decent enough. And if this lands idiosyncratic director Montiel a better script next time, it will all have been worth it.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday May 15 2009
Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Dito Montiel
Screenwriter: Dito Montiel, Robert Munic
Cast: Channing Tatum
Luis Guzman
Terrence Howard
Zulay Henao
Michael Rivera
Flaco Navaja
Peter Tambakis
Roger Guenveur Smith
Anthony DeSando