This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s
my commentary on a new film opening this week at The Majestic
It’s a plausible premise. In the City That Never Sleeps, street-savvy hustlers keep an eye out for street merchants who know how to protect their (purloined) property. Fighting isn’t just a matter of fisticuff skill; it’s the ability to instantly switch on the aggression (from the charm the tourist mode) and then refuse to be taken advantage of, blocking out all other distractions. Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) demonstrates just this kind of prowess to Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard), who knows a fighter when he sees one, because he was one himself, once. Now he makes shady arrangements for bare-knuckle brawls to take place surreptitiously in pre-arranged locales, no refs, only bloodsucking bettors and bloodthirsty spectators. No rules. Winner takes all. And the winner is literally the one left standing. No subjective decisions by style points awarded from certified judges. The only judges here are the gamblers and the gawkers.
Channing Tatum isn’t muscled up like you’d expect of a modern prizefighter, but his pugilistic skills are passable enough to be convincing in this rough-and-ready role. “Fighting” is an old-fashioned film, in that the quiet, well-mannered, noble good guy struggles, overcomes adversity, defeats his opponents and outfoxes his doubters, then gets the girls besides (Zulay Henao). All without ever cussing, or even raising his voice. The only love scene is noticeably demure, fading away from first kiss to the morning after. The comic relief is Zulay’s crotchety old grandmother, who helps her take care of her little daughter. This movie is really more about the trust relationship between the “street fightin’ man”and his trainer/promoter/self-appointed big brother.
bouts” like these exist today in
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93-5 KICK-FM