I wish I knew how to fight. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a pacifist. I’m not the type who would ever actually go out looking for a fight but we live in a dangerous world and I’d like to know how to fight for much the same reason that I like to carry a pink, Hello Kitty derringer in my garter. Self-defense is important.
Again, don’t get me wrong. I know how to pull hair. In fact, back in the day, I was told that I was a very good hair puller. And I keep my nails healthy and strong so I probably could scratch someone’s eyes out if I had to. But, with all that in mind, I’d still probably be totally lost if I ever got into a real fight. I have no idea how to throw a punch for instance. I recently tried to show off my technique to a friend of mine who spent two years serving in the IDF. She started laughing as soon as I made a fist. Apparently, you’re not supposed to tuck in your thumb. I had no idea.
I found myself thinking about this last night. I’m in the process of cleaning out my DVR and, before going to bed, I decided to watch the 2016 film Fight Valley. I recorded Fight Valley off of TMC on March 10th. I’m not sure why I recorded it. Maybe I liked the title. Who knows?
Anyway, Fight Valley is a film about fighting. In many ways, it’s a how-to video for girls who want to learn how to kick ass. Watching Fight Valley, I learned that the most important thing about fighting is to stand around and glare at the person who you want to fight. Judging from the film, it’s also important to say stuff like, “This is our hood,” and “You need to take your skinny ass home, white girl.” Apparently, when walking past someone who you want to fight, it’s very important to make sure that you bump into their shoulder. Basically, it goes: Glare, Talk, Shoulder Bump.
Fight Valley takes place in Camden, New Jersey, where it appears your only two options are either joining the Mafia or getting involved with the underground fighting circuit. Tori Colo (Chelsea Durkalec) is this kickass fighter who needs to make some money. She asks her rich older sister, Windsor (Susie Celek), for the money but Windsor is all like, “Why don’t you get a real job and stop bumping into people’s shoulders?” One night, a skeezy guy tells Tori that she can make some extra cash by going to Fight Valley. The next morning, Tori’s dead body is discovered in the woods!
Well, needless to say, Windsor feels guilty. So, she does what any rich girl who doesn’t know how to fight would do. She starts wandering around Camden and randomly asking people, “Hey, can you give me a ride to Fight Valley?” Well, that doesn’t work. She gets told to go home. Tori’s squad tells her that she either needs to learn how to fight or give up. Fortunately, the harsh and enigmatic Jabs (Miesha Tate) is willing to teach her how to fight. Even more luckily, it only takes four weeks to learn.
(Don’t worry, there’s a twist! Jabs has her own reason for teaching Windsor how to fight. I won’t spoil it here, largely because it’s kind of stupid.)
The good thing about Fight Valley is that a good deal of the cast is made up of actual fighters. Along with Miesha Tate, the cast includes Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg. While I have to admit that I don’t know much about ultimate fighting, I do know that if any of these three gave me the fight glare, I would immediately go hide under a table. Whenever they’re punching, kicking, and putting each other into chokeholds, they are totally believable and there are hints of what the film could have been. Unfortunately, the fight scenes themselves are somewhat haphazardly shot and confusingly edited. As a general rule, when you’ve got actual athletes doing their thing, you don’t need a lot of jump cuts and flashbacks.
The big problem was the acting. For a film where the main attraction was obviously meant to be the fight scenes, Fight Valley was a surprisingly talk movie. Most of the film’s cast had an authenticity to them that disappeared as soon as they opened their mouths and started to recite the script’s overwritten dialogue in the most stilted style possible. It just doesn’t work.
The same can be said of Fight Valley in general. As much as I’d love to know how to throw a punch, Fight Valley left me feeling like maybe I should just stick to hair pulling.