MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: +2

Terrence Howard, Channing Tatum, Brian White, Luis Guzmn, Zulay Henao. Crime/romance/drama. Written by Robert Munic, II, and Dito Montiel. Directed by ditto Montiel.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Small-town boy Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) has come to New York City with nothing. Barely earning a living selling counterfeit goods on the streets, his luck changes when scam artist Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard) sees that he has a natural talent for street fighting. When Harvey offers Shawn help at making the real cash, the two form an uneasy partnership. As Shawns manager, Harvey introduces him to the corrupt bare-knuckle circuit, where rich men bet on disposable pawns. Almost overnight, he becomes a star brawler, taking down professional boxers, mixed martial arts champs and ultimate fighters in a series of staggeringly intense bouts. But if Shawn ever hopes to escape the dark world in which hes found himself, he must now face the toughest fight of his life.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Terrence Howard has been one of my favorite actors ever since Hustle & Flow and Crash. Sadly, his script choices, for whatever reason, are a mixed bag. Hes never bad in them, hes just not given the opportunity to shine. This proves the written word is still important. Well, unless you want a film like Fighting.

Its not a bad film; its just not all that compelling. Or smart. There are nice moments, allowing for some character development, but those scenes are overshadowed by repetitious sequences seen in countless bad-boy-makes-good films. As for the sullen Channing Tatum (Step Up, I and II, Havoc), who looks like Fast and Furious star Paul Walker and talks like Pearl Bailey, he bores me. Hes a good-looking guy and may develop into an actor given time, but hes hamstrung by countless roles where hes the dour rebel without a cause. I realize teens relate to this characteristic, so I make allowance for the teens with angst movies of the week. But I question the character of grown men in movies who act like petulant high school sophomores. Its one thing to be your own man, but the theatrics of a can-kicking antisocial loner have been done to death. If movies continue to featuring lone wolves in the mode of Marlon Brando, James Dean and Paul Newman, then they better find actors with something more going for them than gym-toned 20-something physiques.

As I said, its not a bad movie. Indeed, Id like to congratulate the storytellers for avoiding crude language and situations. While there are a few uses of the s-word (which seems to have become the new damn), the picture avoids the countless objectionables we normally hear in this film genre. And the screenwriter should be congratulated for his effort to present lead characters wanting to do the right thing. But its often nonsensical (are there really fight clubs where a handful of people will ante up a hundred grand to watch two guys go bare-knuckle fisticuffs?).

I think those looking for Fight Club action will be let down by this tame version, and those of us looking for the next On the Waterfront or even Rocky will equally be disappointed.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: I caught none

Obscene Language: Six or so uses of the s-word and several minor expletives (damns and hells).

Profanity: I caught none.

Violence: Bare fisted fight club action, where bodies are punched and pounded; an angry woman shoots a gun, a man is wounded; the life of a hustler is threatened with death if he doesnt get his fighter to through the bout. Blood: Some blood, but fairly tame action compared with most in this genre.

Sex: Some smooching going on, but the lead shows respect for his love interest; one implied sex situation, but with a discreet cutaway.

Nudity: None; a few scenes at the fight sessions feature women in revealing clothing.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some drinking in a club.

Other: None

Running Time: 105 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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