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Film Review: “Chick Fight” Delivers Enough of a Punch to Entertain

Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | November 12th, 2020

Film poster: “Chick Fight”

Chick Fight (Paul Leyden, 2020) 2½ out of 4 stars.

As the title implies, Chick Fight, from actor-turned-director Paul Leyden (Come Back to Me), involves women duking it out. Like an all-female Fight Club, they’ve got to keep it on the down-low, lest their needed physical release be shut down by the law. And so mild-mannered Anna (Malin Akerman, Friendsgiving), propelled by her bestie Charleen (Dulcé Sloan) – who just happens to also be a cop, go figure – out of luck and out of time to pay her rent, straps on some gloves to find a new, tougher self within. Predictably, she gets her face smashed in at first throw, but thanks to some guidance and training from alcoholic maestro Jack (Alec Baldwin, Motherless Brooklyn), she’s soon well on her way to bettering her technique so that she just might beat new nemesis Olivia (Bella Thorne, Midnight Sun). Along the way, some good times are had, though nothing memorable occurs. If one can stomach harmless silliness with a feminist twist, Chick Fight lands a pleasant enough punch.

It’s meant to be Akerman’s show, though the supporting ensemble outshines her genial blandness. Baldwin hams it up, as per the usual, Thorne curls her lip in an appropriate sneer as she trounces the hapless competition and Sloan steals most moments she’s in. Kevin Nash (Klippers), playing Anna’s dad, is a hoot, as is Alec Mapa (Half-Share) as a certain special friend. Comedian Fortune Feimster, as the club’s leader, offers solid jokes, even if Kevin Connolly (Entourage), as her doctor brother (there to repair the frequent damage) seems a mere afterthought. My favorite character is a mysterious French bartender, played by Alexia Barlier (PBS Masterpiece’s A Deadly Union), whose motivations are unclear, throughout, which only makes her more appealing. Whatever the limitations of story and style, it’s nice to see a movie embrace female muscularity like this, though such efforts are treated more for laughs than anything else. There is power in the image of badass “chicks” hitting hard and then getting up for more, and the film more than delivers its share of blood, guts and glory.

l-r: Malin Akerman and Dulcé Sloan in CHICK FIGHT ©Quiver Distribution

The visuals, bright and vivid as red liquid sprays from nose and lip, accompanied by more than enough speed ramping to satisfy viewers looking for overused movie clichés (again, though, made fresh because it involves women), is never particularly exciting. Given the wild inventiveness of the end credits, it’s unfortunate that that same ingenuity was not applied earlier. What works, when it works, is the gentle camaraderie of the cast, along with occasional genuinely funny scenes. I never believed the why of Anna’s decision to join the fight club, nor do I buy that good things would automatically flow from it. But there is still joy in the mayhem, so bring it on.

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Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is Managing Editor at Film Festival Today; lead film critic at Hammer to Nail; formerly the host of the award-winning Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed, from Dragon Digital Media; and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice. In addition, he is one of the cohosts of The Fog of Truth, a podcast devoted to documentary cinema.

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