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.