Chick Fight centers on down-on-her-luck Anna (Malin Akerman), for whom things have gotten so bad, it’s pretty much impossible for her to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Her mother recently died, her car’s been repossessed, her coffee-shop business is failing and her widowed father (Kevin Nash), who’s come out as bisexual, is having a whole lot more sex than she is. Anna’s best friend, Charleen (Dolcé Sloan), realizes Anna needs to get her groove back and decides the way to make that happen is to introduce her to the underground all-female fight club she regularly participates in. An initially hesitant Anna seems hopeless at fighting, but when she discovers she has a deeper connection to the club, she enlists a trainer so she can excel in at least one area of her life.
If it weren’t for its fight club angle, Chick Fight is the kind of movie that would be easy to dismiss as a silly female-fronted comedy with a generic girl-power message. And in many ways, that’s exactly what Chick Fight is. But the moment the words “fight club” are uttered, the comparisons to David Fincher’s far grittier male-centric Fight Club from 1999 are inevitable. And just like that film argued its fight club empowered men who had been emasculated by society, Chick Fight suggests that its club empowers women by enabling them to transcend societal taboos.
Yet while Fight Club’s themes were a great deal more complicated, Chick Fight’s are a lot more simplistic. Ultimately, though it touches on an empowering message, its raunchy jokes get even more emphasis. That makes the film pretty lightweight, but at least it takes its fight sequences seriously. Director Paul Leyden never plays the idea of women fighting for laughs. Instead, he shoots the fights with all the blood and sweat one would expect from any bout in the ring, making these scenes visceral and engaging.
The film’s fight sequences, and the movie as a whole, is also elevated by the actors’ commitment to their roles. Ackerman, who’s also one of the film’s producers, does an excellent job carrying the film as her character goes from barely being able to throw a punch to determined gladiator. Meanwhile, Bella Thorne is convincing as caustic young fighter Olivia, and Sloan steals scenes with her comedic delivery. Alec Baldwin as Anna’s trainer, Jack Murphy, is saddled with walking a strange line between his character’s barely functional alcoholism and his surprising abilities as a trainer. The character doesn’t always make sense and he’s not always as humorous as the movie seems to think he is; however, it’s hard to imagine any other actor pulling the character off as successfully as Baldwin.
The film includes other elements like a half-hearted romance between Anna and the doctor who tends to the injured fighters at the club (Kevin Connolly) and Anna’s job search, but these things are secondary to its focus on the fight club. Chick Fight will never be mistaken for a great film, but it’s diverting enough fun if you’re in the mood for some light female empowerment combined with some engrossing fight sequences.