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Cast: Semra Turan, Nima Nabipour, Cyron Bjørn Melville
Aicha, a high-school student, is a passionate kung fu fighter. Her Turkish parents expect her to get good grades so she can get into medical school, like her brother Ali. But school doesn't inspire her. Defying her family, Aicha starts secretly training at a professional, co-ed kung fu club. A boy, Emil, helps Aicha train for the club championship and they fall in love. But the rules of life are not as simple as the rules of kung fu, and Aicha is forced to decide who she is and what she wants.
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Aicha is a high school student whose Turkish family has high expectations for her. They expect Aicha to not only do well in school by producing excellent grades, but to also marry a man they picked for her. It’s a difficult and rigid life Aicha is expected to lead based on the traditions and customs of her heritage. However, despite her love for her family and her desire to please them, Aicha has her own goals in mind.
To break away from her strict parents, Aicha begins training martial arts at a Kung Fu Club where she meets Emil, a young well gifted marital artist. Emil immediately takes a liking to Aicha and the two starts training together. Eventually they fall in love, but Aicha cannot purse anything with Emil as her family would strongly disagree, especially since Emil is not of the same religion or ethnicity.
When she is spotted around the city with Emil, rumors begin to circulate about her time without boys. Her brother, Ali, a doctor, is about to married but when his fiancé’s brother catches Aicha with Emil, conflict divides both families leading to several violent confrontations. Some of this drama borders on the soap opera melodrama and does at times provide some compelling moments, but not many.
To some degree however, there are some parts to admire about Fighter. It has a likeable cast who do well in their light and emotionally gripping scenes. The chemistry between Aicha and Emil is sweet and genuine. Both actors do a fine job.
But there were a few missed opportunities. For one, Emil never meets Aicha’s parents. It would have been interesting seeing these two ideals clash, particularly with the father who is adamant about Aicha adhering to the traditions of their family. Both Emil and her father care for Aicha, and they both present an interesting dilemma and possible path in life for the protagonist to chose. But the director misses exploring that opportunity.
Also, some of the fight scenes are well choreographed but at times it falls into the cheesy and rather silly territory. The cinematography feels as if we’re watching a music video with the gritty look mixed with the fast then slow pacing as the two fighters combat one another. It just came off a bit cheap.
Fighter at times is charming and touching. The scenes with Aicha and her father feel natural with both actors conveying a sense of disappointment from both sides. Her father is heartbroken to hear that not only is his daughter not following the customs, but she’s also failing school.
For Aicha, it’s not living up to expectations of her family, specifically her father; however, she plans to continue her own path while respecting the family values. Fighter is a bit uneven at times and tends to drag a bit in the middle, and when the final fight happens you’re not entirely concerned with who wins or not. An indie film that had a lot of potential but never lived up it, nor did it know how to.