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Stars: Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard, Brian White, Zulay Henao, Luis Guzman, Michael Rivera

Director: Dito Montiel

Fresh from the 'Step Up' dance films, Tatum does his dancing in the ring in this routine slugfest (all cliches of the genre are present and correct) - not that there are any ropes (or rules) in sight, as Shaun (Tatum), scraping a living on the streets of New York, comes under the wing of scam artist Harvey (Howard), who sees Shaun's power with his fists and introduces him to the world of illegal bareknuckle boxing.

Tatum, mumbling like Brando although he's supposedly a college kid, and Howard, assuming unusual speech rhythms, do their best to inject some personality into the tired story, as Shaun, who can't box much but was a champion wrestler at school, goes from thousand-dollar fights to a million-dollar scrap against the reigning champ (White) - coincidentally his rival from college - which he is ordered to lose.

No prizes for guessing the outcome, although the characters' flight at the end seems a little odd when they have the money to stop half of New York's underworld baying for their blood. Colombian-born Zulay Henao is the girl, oddly playing a single mom called Zulay. Couldn't she remember a character name?

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Universal. Technicolor.
105 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 13 May 2009