VIDEO: The trailer for Fighting
Call this a guide to recognizing your sophomore slump. Dito Montiel won the Directing Award at Sundance with his autobiographical 2006 debut, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, but that film had Robert Downey Jr. and Chazz Palminteri. This one so doesn't.
Shawn (Channing Tatum) is a thick-necked streetfighter out to impress cute Puerto Rican waitress Zulay (Zulay Henao). They're made for each other: he's a muscle-bound clod and she's a vapid cliché, complete with annoying grandmother and doe-eyed daughter.
And though Terrence Howard, as Shawn's shambling fight promoter, Harvey, has some acting chops, he unwisely attempts to channel Dustin Hoffman's Ratso from Midnight Cowboy. Shawn wins some unlikely fights, and the story builds to the predictable big-money grudge match, but the real battle is between Montiel and his own soulless script, as he tries to obscure the hackneyed plot with elaborate street settings, chaotic fight scenes, and gratuitous helicopter shots.