“Fighting” co-stars Channing Tatum of “Step Up” and “Stop-Loss” fame with ex-War Machine, Terrence Howard. A tale of a businessman and a street vendor/fighter willing to do anything it takes to achieve pride, glory, and money.
Tatum plays Shawn MacArthur, a travelling street vendor of an assortment of items, who is new to the streets of New York. Tatum encounters Harvey Boarden (Howard) and his band of ragtag teens in the first scene. Howard’s accomplices ambush Tatum’s curio stand of “Harry Hippopotamus” books. Tatum fights them all back, but they outnumber him and steal his earnings. Tatum finds Howard soon after to collect his previously stolen earnings, and this is where Howard introduces the premise of the movie. Tatum’s eyes light up at the thought of acquiring money in any way possible (Who didn’t see this coming?), and it turns out that he’ll have to fight (and this?).
When Tatum isn’t fighting, he speaks (more on this later) and the weak back story is sort of developed with a love story intertwined. The love interest, Zulay Valez (Zulay Henao), works at a club as a bartender. Tatum stalks her until she finally shows interest, and she ends up stalking him back through Google (who hasn’t done this?). She discovers that Tatum beat up his father in high school because his father tried to impede a fight between Tatum and his rival, Evan Hailey (Brian White). This information connects the showdown at the end.
We’re treated to what seems like speech impediment riddled dialogue delivered from Tatum (it got annoying swiftly). At first, it’s thought to be due to his Birmingham roots (and the way he acts), but people in Alabama don’t speak with long pauses. Tatum did an okay job for not talking much and swinging his fists. Women can rejoice that he’s shirtless half the time, since many women swoon at the mention of his name alone. Tatum’s partner in crime, Howard, delivers a passing grade of a job, but better acting is expected from a star of his caliber (why’d he take this role?). Howard’s character isn’t truly required because his only job is to book fights for Tatum. No teachings, no fighting moves, and just a housing arrangement are shared between the two.
In total, four fights occurred, pitting Tatum against various opponents in bizarre locations. The locations fluctuate from the upstairs of a church to the backyard of a mini-mart to an upstate New York rooftop. For the most part, the fight sequences were lacking, especially because of the fidgety, in your face camera angle. It was difficult deciphering what was going on during fights, and every fight with Tatum was more or less an exact replica. He starts off by losing, but then turns the tide with some amazing move or stroke of luck. Maybe the prize money willed him on?
One of the only bright spots in the movie was the musical score with such songs as “Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City” by Bobby 'Blue' Bland, “Magic” by Robin Thicke, “Hustlin” by Rick Ross, and many others. Songs were played at the perfect times during fight scenes, panoramic shots of the city, and others. The other bright spots are the eye candy that Tatum and Valez provide to their audiences. Both were easy on the eyes throughout the movie, but these two to three bright spots aren’t enough to save an otherwise meaningless plot.