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Friday, September 29, 2000
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Volume 66, Issue 29

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Despite relatively poor dialogue, 'Girlfight' still worth seeing


Girlfight

Starring: Michelle Rodriguez, Jaime Tirelli, Paul Calderon
Available from: Screen Gems
MPAA Rated: R
Our rating: ** 1/2 (of 5 stars)


By Jack Glauser
Daily Cougar Staff

There's a fine line between a great independent film and one that needs a lot more money to make it successful.

Sometimes a film can keep you going on the dialogue alone, with no real action ever taking place. Unfortunately, most people want to see carnage on the big screen. The independent film Girlfight teeters on the brink between the two, with neither great dialogue nor much violence.

The focus of the film is Diana Guzman (played by newcomer Michelle Rodriguez), a troubled teen with no aspirations for a bright future. Adding to her troubles, she's told that if she gets in any more fights, she'll be expelled from school.

Through her brother, Diana becomes enthralled with the art of boxing. She begins her lessons under the tutelage of Hector (Jaime Tirelli, Carlito's Way, A Simple Wish), who pushes Diana as if she were any other fighter. Soon -- as is the case in many movies -- Diana meets the guy of her dreams, Adrian (Santiago Douglas), a fellow aspiring boxer.

At home, Diana must face the everyday torment of her drunken father (Paul Calderon), who is quickly losing what little life and hope he has left. He takes his problems out on Diana and her brother Tiny (Ray Santiago).


James Bridges/Screen Gems


Santiago Douglas (left) and Michelle Rodriguez get intimate in Girlfight.

Calderon has a few notable films under his belt, including Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms and Out of Sight. He's one of the few clearly good things about this movie.

The plot is decent, if familiar: A young girl gets a bad rap, then turns around and feels like she can conquer the world. The cinematography is, well, independent to say the least. But when you have no money, you have no money.

Even that doesn't excuse the dialogue, which makes the movie drag on and get a little boring after about an hour. And even though the film ends with a love story, it doesn't mean the ending is not worth seeing. Sure, it's commonplace and predictable, but no more so than most of the other movies out there.

The one thing Girlfight excels in is its raw, dingy feel. The boxing gym, a hole in the wall decorated with faded posters of past glory, is particularly interesting. The atmosphere is perfect for the movie: The gym has seen its glory days, but it refuses to die -- instead, it trains others to survive.

Is Girlfight worth your time and money? It depends on whether you like boxing and appreciate a good independent flick. Just don't be disappointed by the film's shortcomings.
 

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