Miguel Wants To Fight (2023) Movie Review – A fun comedy that packs a knockout punch

A fun comedy that packs a knockout punch

Steven Seagal was born to fight. So too was Jean Claude Van Damme. That kid from your old high school, who was always getting put in detention for scrapping in the playground, was likely born to fight as well.

But Miguel (Tyler Dean Flores)? He definitely wasn’t born to fight! Despite having a love of martial arts films and a boxing coach for a dad, this 17-year-old isn’t keen on getting into a fight at all.

When his three friends – David (Christian Vunipola), Cass (Imani Lewis), and Srini (Suraj Partha) – involve themselves in battles at school and around their neighbourhood, Miguel is always on the sidelines looking on. Fighting just isn’t in his nature as he’s a nice kid who is pleasant to everyone.

His friends challenge him on his lack of courage and encourage him to toughen up. This doesn’t come easy for the peaceful teen but when his parents inform him of their decision to move to a new city, he resolves to get into a fight before he packs his bags and leaves his friends behind. 

The premise of the movie – finding acceptance through violence – is a rather uncomfortable one, but as the story is played with a lightness of touch with plenty of humorous moments, it’s easy to go along with the central conceit, despite its underlying ugliness. 

After Miguel decides to get into a fight, he and his friends try to find a worthy opponent. They don’t have a lot of success as there is always an obstacle in the way to prevent a fight from happening.

The movie isn’t short of fight scenes, however, as Miguel constantly imagines himself getting into various battles. The movie’s director, Oz Rodriguez, frames these around our protagonist’s love of movies and anime, so we get re-enactments of famous scenes from Game Of Death, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Matrix, and One Punch Man, with Miguel as the central figure kicking ass in each battle. 

In these imagined fight sequences, Miguel is a super-skilled fighter, capable of sending his opponents flying through the air with a single punch. These battles are clearly exaggerated but they will resonate with anybody who has ever daydreamed themselves as a hero with incredible fighting moves and special powers. 

In Miguel’s real life, he is far from the fighter he imagines himself to be, but this isn’t the case for Tyler Dean Flores, the actor portraying him, who clearly has a knack for martial arts, judging by the scenes of him pulling off all the right moves during the movie’s varied skirmishes.

Flores, who made his debut in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, is a fine actor, as adept at comedy as he is at fighting. He delivers a great performance, as do his talented and likeable co-stars who portray his loyal friends.

Special mention must also go to Raúl Castillo who gives a warm and funny performance as Alberto, Miguel’s dad, a man who tends to use boxing metaphors when speaking to people. In one hilarious moment, his wife reminds him of the moment he enquired about her hospitalized mother, asking if she was “out for the count.” The script is full of such one-liners so if you found that line of dialogue funny, you will get a great deal of enjoyment from this movie. 

Director Rodriguez’s direction is as inspired as the screenplay, implementing all manner of clever devices to keep the movie interesting, from scenes that play out like video games, with cartoon effects complementing each punch and kick that Miguel delivers, to sports commentator voiceovers that are heard whenever he approaches his imagined opponents.

Rodriguez previously directed Vampires vs. the Bronx so he clearly has an interest in urban, culturally-relevant comedies. He’s a good director, as adept at getting the best from his actors as he is at creating stylish scenes of action and comedy.

At only 75 minutes long, his latest movie doesn’t outstay its welcome. This short running time is a plus as it showcases his ability to keep the plot moving with no padding. His example is something other directors should follow, instead of dragging out their movies’ running times with overlong scenes that irritate viewers and add little to the overall plotting.

Miguel Wants To Fight is an easy-to-watch movie full of laughs and goofy fight scenes but it’s so much more than a silly action-comedy. It tells a semi-emotional story about a boy who faces his fears and who thinks he needs to go to extremes to receive acceptance from his father and his peers.

As such, this will be relatable to any teenager currently experiencing their own coming-of-age, with all of the battles – both real and imagined – that growing up entails. But regardless of the deep messages that can be learned from Miguel’s tale, this is still a highly entertaining movie that should deliver a knockout blow for its target audience. 


Read More: Miguel Wants To Fight Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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