Tag Archives: Channing Tatum

DVD Review: Fighting (2009)

Fighting is one of those movies that looks, smells and tastes B-grade, but is backed by an A-grade cast (Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard as opposed to an unknown white actor +  Brian Dennehy) and a better-than-expected screenplay and director (Dito Montiel).  But for these factors, it probably should have gone straight to DVD.  Instead, what we ended up with is a slightly above average, albeit forgettable film.

Fighting is a film about…er…fighting.  Underground, bare-knuckle street fighting, to be precise.

Tatum plays Shawn MacArthur, a nice young man trying to make ends meet on the streets of New York, and Howard plays Harvey Boarden, the man who ‘discovers’ him and kind of takes him under his wing.  Throw in a few fist fights, a love interest (Zulay Henao), an arch nemesis (Brian White) and an unfolding back story, and that’s Fighting in a nutshell.

Right from the opening sequence, from the music to the gritty feel to Tatum’s outfit, you get the suspicion that Fighting is trying to channel Rocky.  You know, the underdog from the wrong side of the tracks who tries and manages to become something after being given an opportunity.

Tatum even gives a bit of a Stallone impersonation.  He’s got that good guy routine going, and he’s also got that underdog pride; even their persistence in picking up girls is similar.  The only thing missing is a crooked mouth and a speech impediment.

The fight scenes in Fighting are solid.  Naturally, they are a little over-the-top, but for the most part they maintain a slight resemblance to realism (apart from the fact that getting belted in the face hardly leaves more than a light bruise). Thankfully, each fight is given proper screen time – there’s no hastily prepared montage with rapidly accumulating victories.

My problem with it all is that the whole process from Tatum’s character being ‘discovered’ to him being in and winning fights is pretty dubious.  Seriously, the guy punched out a few stiffs on the street, and the next thing you know he’s been thrown into bare-knuckle fights with a massive underground audience?  And really, it’s not like he is a freakish talent or has abnormal kung fu abilities.  He’s just a skinny street punk who knows how to throw a punch or two – would he even have a sliver of a chance against the type of tough guys he was going up against?  I highly doubt it.  (One of the dudes was Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le!)

Maybe that was the whole point.  He wasn’t supposed to stand a chance, but somehow he manages to prevail.

Nevertheless, if Fighting was all about fighting, it would have been okay.  Unfortunately, they just had to insert the love interest in there.  Nothing wrong with a bit of loving, but it took up such a large chunk of the 105-minute running time.  And most of all, it was quite lame.

Oh well.

2.5 stars out of 5!

[Note: for about 2 months before watching this movie, I mistakenly thought ‘Fighting’ was ‘Never Back Down‘.  Gotta see that one too.]

Movie Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

gi-joe-int-poster

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is the type of summer blockbuster that is fated to be panned by critics, regardless of whether it actually deserves to be reviled.  In my humble opinion, if you know what to expect with this type of film (and come on, you should if you go to see it), it’s not actually all that bad.

First of all, it should be noted that while I may or may not have played with the Hasbro action figures (which may or may not have been cheap rip-offs) when I was younger, I am not very familiar with the G.I. Joe ‘story’, if there is one.  Nevertheless, that isn’t very important to this movie.

I won’t reveal the plot because there’s really no point – take a guess and you’ll probably be close.  You don’t need me to tell you that the film revolves around the ‘Joes’ who are trying to stop their evil enemies from world domination.  Trust me, it’s predictable – even the so-called twists are.  It’s also likely to be the first of many G.I. Joe films to come, depending on the success of this first one.

Anyway, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is pretty much what you’d expect from a film of this kind.  It has a superb cast: Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jonathan Pryce, Arnold Vosloo (the Mummy!), Brendan Fraser (cameo) and Ray Park (Darth Maul!).  It also features some sub-par acting, at least by these actors’ standards.

Also as expected, the film is extremely loud and relentless, with non-stop action and all types of battle scenes, from the ground to the sky to the sea, from hand-to-hand combat to exhilarating sword fights, from bullets to hi-tech blasters to ninja stars, and of course the obligatory car chase scenes – you name it, you got it.  All of these sequences are filmed with the subtlety of a sledge-hammer, and while some of it was exciting, it still felt like something was missing.  Perhaps it was the predictability, the apparent invincibility of the characters, or maybe it was just a lack of heart.

The special effects go without saying.  It’s seamless and often eye-popping.  However, it is the stuff that doesn’t rely on special effects – the hand-t0-hand and particularly the sword fights – that really steal the show.  They are meticulously choreographed and there’s no over-use of quick-cut editing.  Oh, and there’s also the cool technological gadgets, weapons and machinery.  If you can suspend all disbelief then you may think they are pretty cool.

So far so good.  Unfortunately, as expected, the good parts also come hand in hand with the appalling dialogue, the cheesy one-liners and horrible jokes that only generate laughs because they’re so bad.  Cringeworthy bad.

There you have it.  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is what it is.  As long as you don’t expect something else then you may find it quite enjoyable, though even then, it has its limitations.

3 stars out of 5!