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copyright ©1999-2001

flick pick | Girlfight 2000
Directed + written by: Karyn Kusama
Starring: Michelle Rodriguez, Santiago Douglas, Jaime Tirelli, Ray Santiago, Paul Calderon
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
drama, new release
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:
lovey, serious
The verdict: ½/ 5 the rating system explained

Plot synopsis Diana Guzman is one pissed-off teenage girl. She’s pissed off at the stuck-up popular girls at her school, and at her best friend Marisol, who tries so desperately to be friends with them. She’s pissed off at her Dad, who’s constantly berating her for one perceived flaw or another. Mostly she’s just pissed off at a world that insists that girls should be girly girls, all smiling and docile and pretty, and at her going-nowhere life in the projects. So when one afternoon, she arrives at the neighborhood boxing training center to pick up her baby brother Tiny – an artistic, bookish, sensitive-type who’s only there to please his father – she thinks she’s finally found a place where she can put all that anger to constructive use. Trainer Hector reluctantly agrees to take her on – he’s not entirely sure that girls belong in the ring, at first anyway, but she’s a paying client. Diana, it turns out, has plenty of talent but completely lacks discipline. As she works with Hector to get her body into shape and her mind into the art of boxing, Diana begins to feel like she’s found a place she really belongs. But things get complicated when she falls for fellow boxer Adrian, a rising young star who fights in her same weight class.

Review You’ll be forgiven if you read the synopsis and think, "Great, after-school special meets Rocky." There’s nothing about the plot of Girlfight that hasn’t been done before. And sadly, Girlfight doesn’t entirely escape cliché – most notably, in the somewhat unbelievable contrivance of a championship bout in which Diana and Adrian duke it out in the ring. But what Girlfight really gets right is character and attitude. The movie just feels so real. Partly it’s the whole look of the film, which is appropriately dark and gritty and shot almost documentary-style. But mostly it’s the actors, who render the film’s characters complex and believable and very sympathetic. Supporting actors Santiago Douglas [Adrian], Jaime Tirelli [Hector] and Paul Calderon [Diana’s father] are all excellent in their roles, but it’s Michelle Rodriguez as Diana who just about owns this film. From the first moment she shows up onscreen, eyes cold and dark and glowering, you feel her anger. She’s not just some pretty girl dressed down like a tomboy to make you think tough – this is one girl that looks not only like she could whup your butt, but moreover, like she’s not even going to pretend to wait for an excuse to do so. Girlfight has its flaws, but in the end, it wins you over with its charisma. 
 — reviewed by Y. Sun 

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