Montiel offers more than meets the eye in “Fighting”

Rated R : 1 hour 45 minutes : Rogue Pictures

The critical success of Dito Montiel’s gritty and raw debut feature, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, must have given him the leeway to head into a wider venue to expand his knowledge of life on the city streets; for Fighting, his sophomore film that is also set in New York City, ended up playing at popular multiplexes across the nation. Once again enlisting the help of A Guide‘s co-star, Channing Tatum (and just before he explodes into major stardom with G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra), Montiel keeps the tough realism in his storytelling and cinematography for this story of a twenty-something who resorts to selling generic merchandise on the streets in hope to make even a half-way living.

It is obvious from the title and advertisements of the film that we will follow the lead character on a tour of small, underground fights with dangerous consequences and big money stakes, but what won’t be revealed in any TV spot is that this is actually as much an observant character study as a fighting picture, and it’s certainly in no way similar to possible comparisons/neanderthal-like films like Lionheart. Giving a very good performance opposite the commanding Tatum is Terrence Howard as a down-on-his-luck man who takes on promoting duties for the young fighter and is widely considered a “low-life” among his peers in the business. I admired the way there was an emotional involvement in every single character in the film, so when the inevitably brutal climax of the final bout comes into play we actually care about what might happen to the people involved.

I saw this one in early May, which was a time that I considered full of droughts and empty choices in theaters, so I ended up choosing Fighting out of lack options, but 105 minutes later I was glad I did take the chance. There are certainly things about the film that prevent it from becoming even more of a powerful experience, and I don’t consider it in the same class as Montiel’s first film, but for a semi-transition into a bigger budget experience, Fighting is a solid and recommendable film that doesn’t stray from where he grounded his roots.

***Odd little side note: From the moment I saw an accidental shot of a boom mic at the top frame of a shot early on in the film, I began to keep count. There are over a dozen occurrences of the boom mic dipping in and out of the frame, with some of the times being extremely noticeable. This led me to believe that it wasn’t missed during the editing process and was deliberately kept in without much of a worry. In a film like this, I don’t mind it being there.

3 Stars

Channing Tatum
Terrence Howard
Zulay Henao
Luis Guzman
Brian White
Written by
Dito Montiel
Robert Munic
Directed by
Dito Montiel


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4 Responses to “Montiel offers more than meets the eye in “Fighting””

  1. Chris Baker Says:

    Did you see Hollywoodland? We counted something like 98 times where the boom mic popped in. It’s what kept me awake thru that piece of poo.

  2. Ferguson Says:

    I saw it when it came out, so it’s been a while and I don’t remember the boom mic popping in. However, I do remember enjoying the film.

  3. Katy Dennison Says:

    the previews of this movie kinda turned me off, but then again they usually do. it’s interesting what you said about the director, i’ll have to check out his first movie. your review makes me think of jet li’s unleashed. they marketed that film in a lame way and missed the entire story. but action sells these days.

    • Ferguson Says:

      Very good comparison with the mention of “Unleashed”, which I agree had some of the most deceiving advertisements ever. Yeah I recommend Montiel’s first film highly, and if you like that then I’d say see “Fighting”.

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