We’ve seen plenty of comeback stories involving men literally fighting their way back from the bottom, and we have also seen stories of men trying to overcome a “dry spell.” Chick Fight takes inspiration from these narratives and flips the script by telling the story from a woman’s perspective. The film tells the story of Anna (Malin Akerman), who has hit rock bottom in life, both personally and professionally, and through an underground, all-female fight club, finds inspiration to overcome life’s struggles. Considering the rise and success of females in combat sports, this story feels appropriate and has plenty of fun elements to it. However, Chick Fight is not an entirely smooth journey from start to finish.
The film opens with Anna waking up in a lethargic state, and this is followed up by her having to endure listening to her upstairs neighbour sleeping with someone, her car getting repossessed, and audiences seeing her lacklustre coffee business. It’s a well-executed introduction to the character as it explains everything about her current life status, and this is where the film shines brightest, characters. From Anna to her outspoken, aggressive policewoman best friend Charleen (Dulce Sloan), and even her older, slightly adventurous father Ed (Kevin Nash), there’s a great range of characters that are quickly established, different, and all bring a fun energy to scenes.
As much as Chick Fight has a fun selection of supporting characters, they would all be lacklustre if it were not for Akerman’s performance as Anna. Not only does she do a great job showcasing Anna as a defeated character in the early stages, she effortlessly brings out a kind-hearted personality that instantly makes Anna a sympathetic figure. But it also makes her a perfect foil for other characters, which is highlighted in the scene when she poorly attempts to verbally combat local tough girl Olivia (Bella Thorne), only to fall flat on her face with weak and unintimidating trash talk. However, it’s these characteristics that also enhance the presentation of the fight club, as Anna is well and truly out of her element when she first arrives there.
There is also Alec Baldwin, who shines in his role as Anna’s heavy drinking fight trainer, Jack Murphy. The initial scenes and trailer make it feel like Jack Murphy will be a character that takes this over the top narrative even further into absurdity, but Baldwin finds a nice balance between humour and providing genuine emotion at the appropriate time. When training gets serious, Baldwin keeps the film’s comedic element intact, but also effectively delivers the inspirational, “The only thing that separates fear from bravery is one small step,” which pushes Anna’s journey forward and gives audiences that heart-warming message. Baldwin glides nicely between a comedic and serious tone, which is not an easy task, but the film benefits greatly from his performance as this role in the hands of a lesser actor could have been a much more annoying character.
A large part of this film revolves around the action, as it is focusing on a fight club. Often, in smaller films, the action can pull the film down, but thankfully that’s not the case for Chick Fight. The action, much like the film, has a good blend of absurd moments while at the same time having some hard-hitting fights that appropriately give the underground fight club that no holds barred grittiness. The fight scenes are lively and generally provide a spark to the film, especially in the portions where the story becomes a tad bumpy.
Although Chick Fight starts strong and generally is pretty consistent in providing funny moments, the story does seem to lose momentum in the second act. Too much is incorporated into the story, and it becomes difficult to understand what direction Anna is going in. Anna’s potential romantic relationship takes over and is the focus of a lot of the second act. This almost makes us forget the important showdown that’s supposed to be dramatized and built up in the second act. The performances remain strong, but as an audience member, you lose an emotional investment in the story because we forget what’s important and what we want our protagonist to achieve.
The unfortunate decline in the narrative during the second act also weakens the climax, as it’s not particularly original. When you become emotionally distant from the film, it takes something a little different to make you reinvest in the story, but this doesn’t offer anything different. It’s full of clichés. Had it not been for the cast’s comedic timing and Akerman’s well-rounded performance, the film’s conclusion would have been completely flat.
In the end, Chick Fight won’t set the world on fire, as it’s nothing audiences haven’t seen before. However, it has good action, energetic and fun performances, and some heartfelt messages that will strike a chord with people, making it a decent viewing experience for audiences.
Dir: Paul Leyden
Scr: Joseph Downey
Cast: Malin Akerman, Bella Thorne, Alec Baldwin, Dulcé Sloan, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Nash, Fortune Feimster and Dominique Jackson
Prd: Malin Akerman, Jordan Yale Levine, Jordan Beckerman, Anne Clements, Ash Christian, Frances Lausell, Michael J. Rothstein,
DoP: Steve Holleran
Runtime: 97 Minutes
Chick Fight is available on digital and on demand on November 13th and in theatres in US.