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» Review Summary

Fighting Review

Short Version: Fighting was a decent idea for the movie with some sound dramatic plot points that just never really come to fruition. The fighting in the film is ruined by the dreaded shaky cam syndrome and the main conflict of the movie never interested me because they made it uninteresting. Terrence Howard almost singlehandedly saves the film, but even he couldn't pull it out of the fire.

Release: April 24th 2009

Genre: action/fighting

Director: Dito Montiel

Staring: Terrence Howard, Channing Tatum, Zulay Henao, Luis Guzmán

SCORE: 4/10

» Review

Fighting Review

By John - April 24, 2009 - 13:31 America/Montreal

Thanks for checking out our Fighting review. If you’d like to see our quick video version of our Fighting review you can view it at the bottom of the written version.

I just actually wrote a post the other day here on The Movie Blog asking you guys if anyone was interested or planning on seeing Fighting. I didn’t ask that because the film looked bad, I simply asked because despite all the marketing I’ve seen for the film I haven’t heard anyone buzzing about it whatsoever. Good or bad. Just nothing. For me personally, despite the fact that I love fight movies and Mixed Martial Arts in general, the film just wasn’t appealing to me. So off I went to see it. I kinda wish I hadn’t.


The synopsis for fighting reads something like this: “In New York City, a young counterfeiter (Tatum) is introduced to the world of underground street fighting by a seasoned scam artist (Howard), who becomes his manager on the bare-knuckling brawling circuit.” On top of that we learn that Tatum’s character has a history with his father, and an elite fighter who was coached by his father. Oh the drama of it all.


I’ve been getting just a little down on Terrence Howard recently. No doubt he has talent, but he’s made some questionable decisions about which roles he takes recently, and turned in some mediocre performances. With that being said, despite not having too much to work with in Fighting, Howard gives a terrific performance. Not explosive and over the top… but rather penetratingly reserved. His subtlety made his performance all the more powerful, and actually made me interested in who this character was. He has a past that the film never fully explains or explores (I like it when a movie doesn’t feel the need to explain every last thing) and Howard brought so much regret, sadness and disapointment to his character who is still proud, that you can read the story all over his face. This was one of those great performances that most people will never talk about because it’s given in a mediocre film. Shame… Howard really brought it.

The actual combat and fighting in the movie is choreographed in a very gritty and realistic way. It felt like I was watching a couple of guys actually brawling. Most Hollywood movies go for all the glam shots. Big haymakers thrown with every punch and wild spinning back kicks. Fighting resists the temptation to go in that direction and I think it was far more enjoyable for it.

There were some very cute girls in it. That’s all I’ve got.


I’m sorry to subject you to my ranting on this same topic again (this is a huge pet peeve of mine), but the wild and chaotic shaky camera and directionless erratic editing of the fight scenes ruined about 80% of all the fighting in the movie called “Fighting”. They completely crapped all over the terrific choreography by ruining the scenes because the audience couldn’t tell who was punching who, or who just threw who because everything was a blurring puke like visual mess. Pathetic. IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DIRECT A FIGHT SCENE, GET SOMEONE WHO DOES TO COME IN FOR THE DAY TO HELP YOU OUT!!!!!!

I know he’s an up and coming star… but Channing Tatum did not impress me in the least. It felt like I was watching some WWE wrestler trying his hand at acting. His character was actually more interesting (in theory) than Howard’s character, but unlike Howard, Channing never made me believe in his character. Never made me interested in who he was or where his life road came from. no subtlety, no power, no passion. No good.

The romance of the film was completely forced and utterly unbelievable. Other than the fact that the girl was hot, there is no reason he would have instantly be infatuated with her, and there was certainly no reason why she would have started giving him the time of day… let alone so instantly fall madly in love. They met a couple of times, and they were ready to die for each other. Sorry… didn’t buy it even a little bit.

I know I just said that I enjoy it when a movie doesn’t feel the need to explain every little detail… but there are some things you do need to reveal to the audience if you want us to be emotionally invested in the big conflict. The movie never really gives a half decent reason why the lead character and the “bad guy” hate each other so much. Oh it tells us they have some little rivalry when they were younger and some “daddy liked you best” sort of stuff… but the shear amount of animosity suggests there was more to it that the movie either never reveals or never thought of. Left me just not caring about the “big fight” at the end of the movie.


Fighting was a decent idea for the movie with some sound dramatic plot points that just never really come to fruition. The fighting in the film is ruined by the dreaded shaky cam syndrome and the main conflict of the movie never interested me because they made it uninteresting. Terrence Howard almost singlehandedly saves the film, but even he couldn’t pull it out of the fire. Overall I give Fighting a 4/10.

You can watch the video version of our Fighting review here:


  1. Matt K says:

    john’s arch nemesis: SHAKEY CAM…joking.


    how was tatum’s performance?

  2. HDC says:

    I knew this movie would suck.

  3. MandarinOrange says:

    What I think they should do is try and make a bio pick of one of the MMA fighters. Gracie would be good or maybe Contour. Maybe not even a bio pick but a dramatic adaption of their careers. If they want to make an MMA movie they need to make an MMA movie. Not this underground fighting club stuff. Invest in a good actor, a good director, drop the shaky cam and maybe make the fighting a little bit more spectacular then real MMA and that would be a movie worth seeing.

    • Darren J Seeley says:

      A biopic of the Gracie family? Hmmm….

      I’d settle for a remake of 82’s “Tough Enough” only with MMA fighting…

  4. LordThyBob says:

    I’m with you on the shaky cam thing, but more than just fighting scenes have too much movement.

    Bourne Ultimatum was on TV recently and I swear I was getting motion sick during every conversation because the camera couldn’t keep still for an instant. Loved it in theaters, but couldn’t watch it on TV.

  5. Henrik says:

    Hey John, is this movie as mutch of a ripp-off of the Van Damme movie Lionheart as the trailer makes it out to be?

  6. Iceberg says:

    Thanks John,
    But 4/10? ??? Damn, you generous B, In my books it’s a 2.5/10 no lie. There’s nothing explosive about this movie. This movie is like trash in the winter “Cold Garbage”. And your are 100% right, the fights did feel as if you’re witnessing a brawl straight out of Flatbush Brooklyn,…but Hey, if I want that type of fighting, I go to Flatbush Brooklyn not to the damn movies. And at least those fights in BK are more entertaining cause homie that gets beat up is normally some cat that thought he was hard.
    back to the movie…
    This was a waist, It’s right up there with ‘the marine’ ….

    • bigsampson says:

      ya i go to somali to watch warlords shoot people for fun…its “hard there” !

  7. Vito says:

    Does anyone else hate Channing Tatum with a passion? I really just can’t fucking stand him.

    Also, I have no hope for G.I. Joe.

  8. AARON says:

    knew it would be bad

  9. tzaylor says:

    Thanks for mentioning the shaky cam issues. i hope enough action fans complain about it that someone important hears it.

    It makes me wonder if action scenes get the superfast cuts in and out to try to add to the motion of the fight or is it just to hide the fact that the choreography isn’t that good.

  10. fullmetal_medji says:

    If they couldn’t think of a creative title for the film; chances are that it won’t be that good.

    • Matt K says:

      yeah i think john you should do a post about “worst film titles” and this could be in the top 5(imo)

  11. Kristina says:

    Not surprised.

  12. Darren J Seeley says:

    It’s settled then.

    Everyone go see The Soloist.

    • Kristina says:

      Have you seen The Soloist yet? Was it any good? I heard it sucked, and I was wondering if it’s worth the money.

      I want to see the Disney Earth movie. That shot in the commercials of the little baby bird leaping out of the tree trying to fly makes me much more emotional than it should. It’s embarassing.

    • Darren J Seeley says:

      Made me thought about taking up a hobby, like Duck Hunting.

    • Kristina says:


  13. Lee A says:

    The movie was horrible, bad camera angles, and the camera focus was brutal. And the worst part, was the mic continually came down and was visible in quite a few scenes. Thats such poor quality, I don’t know how they released the movie without catching that!

  14. Joe says:

    I thought the fight scenes were freaking great…

    wicked is really the only reason i went to see it, so i left pleased with the movie…

  15. Andrew James says:

    “I haven’t been interested in seeing this movie. There’s something about the marketing of it or something has just not appealed to me and has not made me wanna go out and see it… anyway, I came out to see it today.”

    Makes perfect sense to me.

    • John says:

      Hey Andrew,

      Since we’ve had this conversation on here several times over the years… I’ll just remind you… yet again… that unless I’m “against” seeing something, I go to see just about everything there is in theaters… interested or not… regardless if it looks good or not.

  16. Yosh says:

    I too could not belive the mic kept coming down into the shot. 1 scene it even comes close to hitting the actor in the head. There’s no way this could have been missed in so many scenes. Even living room scene you can see the stage lighting what a joke.

  17. tman says:

    So John, as much as i respect the fact that you go to see movies whether you are interested in them or not, but why didn’t you go and see The Soloist. I mean surely that movie looked way better than this movie, or go see Obsessed, they both looked better than this movie.

    • John says:

      Hey tman,

      Only had limited time and had to pick one. The Soloist isn’t playing in my town… the closest theater playing it is about an hour away. I’ll get to it this week though.

    • tman says:

      ok, i was just interested in seeing your thoughts on it. because i remember you mentioning a while back that there was some oscar buzz around this movie. and i just wanted to make sure i didn’t misinterpret it.

  18. The Jim Walker says:

    Kinda what i expected from this film. (4/10) From the first mention this film didnt seem to hold much for me.

    PS - John, please tell me Hollywood hasn’t beaten you and you are not living out of your car! (Ha! j/k)

  19. ButterOnMyPopcorn says:

    Got to agree that shaky cam ruins movies. But my new thing is quick choppy clips edited together to string an action piece together. I watched the most recent bond and I could not follow what was going on for the life of me.

    I know its hard to shoot one long continous action shot but the one is the Protector is epic.

  20. erase says:

    Anyone know when the movie come out?
    the trailer looks ok..
    PS: download yoru favorite episode here http://www.episodeshare.com

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