April 23, 2009 -- “Fight Night” (also known as Rigged) is a fairly effective fight film that seems to have borrowed pieces of its plot from many other similar fight films, including “Million Dollar Baby,” “Hard Times,” “Requiem for a Heavyweight” “Gladiator” and “Streets of Gold.” I guess if you are going to borrow plot ideas, there are worse sources. Some of these movies are classics. “Fight Night” is no classic but it works the fight movie formula well enough to make it a winner. This film has just recently been released on DVD through Peace Arch Home Entertainment.
Chad Otis, who looks and acts a lot like Tom Cruise, stars as a small-time hustler, Michael Dublin. He works on the margins of the underground fight business as a promoter and fight manager. One day, he sees a young woman, Katherine Parker (played by Rebecca Neuenswander) who is tough enough to beat any man. Using some unscrupulous methods, he gets her to agree to let him be her manager, and the two begin to make money in underground fist fights. When they start making money, they attract the attention of criminals in the fight business who threaten to kill Dublin if he doesn't agree to have Parker throw some fights. Dublin is no stranger to throwing fights, but Parker never wants to lose.
During their cross-country travels, Dublin has a painful encounter with both his mother and his old girlfriend when he and Parker make a forced stop in Dublin's home town. Dublin likes to keep his feelings under wraps, but he eventually opens up to Parker, telling her of his life's dream, to own his father's old sailboat. Parker seems to be a lesbian, but claims she isn't. The unlikely pair of Parker and Dublin fight their way across the country, dealing with double-crossers and crooked fight promoters. The climax, of course, is the Big Fight for all the marbles. The ending is less predictable than that.
Both Chad Otis and Rebecca Neuenswander give convincing performances. The fight scenes are well choreographed by Richard A. Buswell, who is also the film's stunt coordinator and also plays the part of fighter and promoter Eightball Jones. The cinematography by Hanuman Brown-Eagle is solid. Since Parker is 100 pounds or more lighter and a head shorter than many of her opponents in this film, there is no way she could win these fights. There is a reason for weight classifications in both boxing and wrestling. The fight choreography, cinematography and Neuenswander's performance in the film are good enough make it look plausible for Parker to be at least competitive in these fights. Slow-motion shots are used effectively to show Parker's lightning fast speed in the ring. The screenplay by Ian Shorr also has enough humor in it to get the audience past the rough spots. This film rates a B. The DVD has deleted scenes, a director's audio commentary, Spanish subtitles and a feature trailer. Sound is Dolby® digital stereo or 5.1 surround. The aspect ratio of the picture is 16:9 enhanced.
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