“Girlfight” (2000) is a spirited and wonderfully naturalistic drama starring Michelle Rodriguez as Diana Guzman, a troubled high school student who discovers boxing as an outlet for her pent-up hostilities and aggression.
Prone to violence that stems from a troubled home life, Diana stews in consternation as her single-parent father Sandro (Paul Calderon) compels her brother Tiny (Ray Santiago) to train at a local gym—despite Tiny's disinterest in the sport. When Diane furtively engages Tiny's trainer, Hector (Jamie Tirelli) to instruct her instead, unbeknownst to Sandro, she sets the course for a thought-provoking tale of maturation and personal discovery.
Written and directed by Karyn Kusama ("The Invitation", "Destroyer"), "Girlfight" is a briskly-paced and roundly sincere portraiture of youthful rebellion and burgeoning self-actualization. In her feature film debut, Rodriguez is an absolute revelation as a precarious youth beset by hardship, yet driven by sheer conviction and physical prowess. A deeply resonant character study at its core, it's a lesser-heralded gem that deserves all due recognition and acclaim.
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