New York Times - 04/24/2009
"Mr. Tatum has what it takes to be a real movie star. Not just an impressive physique and the physicality of a young Marlon Brando, but also a surprising sensitivity, a lightness of manner that makes him credible..."
Los Angeles Times - 04/24/2009
"[V]ivid....It feels like a guided tour of the city's in-your-face underbelly, loaded with detail that only a native with an artist's eye could reveal."
Chicago Sun-Times - 04/22/2009 3 stars out of 4 -- "[The film] creates uncommonly interesting characters....[Listen] to the dialogue by Robert Munic and Montiel, which is far above formula boilerplate and creates the illusion that the characters might actually be saying it in the moment."
Hollywood Reporter - 04/22/2009
"Terrence Howard lends the pedigree of great screen acting, and Zulay Henao adds charm and glamour while a fine supporting cast validates the semi-documentary approach."
A.V. Club - 04/23/2009
"The black-market fisticuffs in FIGHTING have a real-life messiness that's part of the film's scrappy underdog charm....New York movies this gritty and flavorful don't come along very often." -- Grade: B+
In director Dito Montiel's 2009 drama, FIGHTING, Channing Tatum (G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA) portrays Shawn, a young man from the South trying to make a living on the streets of New York City. When Shawn gets into an altercation while selling bootleg CDs and DVDs, a con man (Terrence Howard) who witnesses the brawl takes him under his wing and introduces Shawn to NYC's underground street-fighting circuit. In these bare-knuckle battles, Shawn has a chance to win significant money--and also the heart of the beautiful Zulay (Zulay Henao).
A film that goes beyond its deceptively simple title and premise, FIGHTING is elevated by the keen eye of Montiel, who also co-wrote the script with Robert Munic, and the charismatic presence of Tatum, who previously had a minor role in the writer-director's cinematic debut, A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS. Although the film goes through the standard up-by-the-bootstraps dramatic cycle, the performances of Tatum, Howard, and Henao make the story surprisingly compelling, and the fight sequences are exceptionally fierce, giving the movie considerable added zest. Though less high-profile than combat classics such as ROCKY and THE KARATE KID, FIGHTING fits well into the category of revered movies of the boxing/martial-arts subgenre.