I’m terrible for judging films by their ads/covers. I’ve wrongly judged so many films over the last year only to be massively proved wrong. Last night it happened again. My girlfriend and I nipped to Blockbuster to pick out some movies from the ‘5 for £5’ section. “I have to find a shit film that I can slag off on Beard Of Truth” I thought to myself. It came pretty easy. It had been in this section, for what seemed like forever, the film ‘Fighting’. I picked it up but my other half flatly refused. After much to and throw she caved in. There was a part of me that was secretly happy as I’d geniunely wanted to see it for a while now, based on my lowest male instinct default setting telling me it would be full off tits and guys kicking the shit out of each other every 2 minutes.
The basic premise of the film is thus: the lead Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) is a street hustler. One day while selling counterfeit goods at the corner of Radio City Music Hall, a group of young men attempt to force Shawn to relocate with his merchandise. These boys work for Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard), a ticket scalper who controls the corner. Shawn fights them off, but does not retain his money or products.
Later, Shawn sees Harvey and the guys who stole his money in a cafe and confronts them. Harvey gives him his money back and offers him a chance to a ‘winner takes all’ fight for money. So off he goes having some quite tame street fights, running into old enemies and falling in love on the way.
Anyway we got home and after dinner we stuck it on, telling each other if it was as bad as we knew it was going to be, we’d turn it off after 10 minutes. (Before the fucking thing had even started I was scratching my head and asking aloud “why is a good actor like Terrance Howard in this shit?”)
But, something strange happened. The opening title sequences were not the ‘Fast & Furious’ type affair I expected, but very low key and gritty. In fact after 10 minutes we were both looking at each other like “what the fuck?”. The music for starters was great-Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and some really old skool Hip Hop. The look of it also had a very deliberately shot 70’s feel, filmed in New York as if they’d picked all the spots from watching 70’s re-runs of Sesame Street.
WHO EVER MARKETED THIS FILM GOT IT COMPLETELY FUCKING WRONG. (Just look at that trailer above – it’s terribly mis-leading)
I’m not saying this is a brilliant film by a country mile – the plot is fucking paper thin – but I expected something dire, aimed at teenagers with low attention spans, full of bling and set pieces, and what I actually got was a not bad wee film with some good turns from the actors, that looked and felt more like an independent world cinema release. I can imagine all the teens that went to see it at the cinema being really confused and pissed off by the whole thing, because it seems that this is the demographic some dick head marketing wanker decided to aim it at. If they had changed the name of the film and the artwork and aimed it at a low key world cinema audience it might’ve faired better (although saying that it did gross like $32 million at the box office, so maybe not).
So yes, my bad, I judged this film and it pleasantly surprised me. (You may however go and rent it with the idea that it’s not that bad and think it’s god awful shit, as my original perception of it was, so I’ve maybe spoiled it for you now.)
If you do rent it just keep telling yourself it’s a big steaming pile of crap film full of dick heads who you wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire, and you should be ok. Don’t get me wrong though – It’s not amazingly fucking great, it’s ok, it’s far better than a lot of films I’ve seen that have been billed as the best fucking shit ever. I guess I’m pissed off because I really really wanted to slag ‘Fighting’ off, but in a way quite happy that it proved me wrong.