When actor Joe Ricci first screened his all-Arizona feature ‘Come Out Fighting,’ his goal was simple; to provide a free screening to the cast and crew that had worked so hard to help complete the film, and to allow the public to view and evaluate the film. Ricci never predicted the overwhelmingly positive response the audience had to the film, and the demand for an opportunity to see it again. “Considering the budget and how quickly we filmed it, I didn’t expect the positive reactions I have been receiving” Ricci said. “Dozens of people have messaged me to please show it again, or ask when they can buy it on DVD. There were also a lot of people who could not make it to the first screening, so I decided to screen it again.” In response to the demand, an encore presentation of ‘Come Out Fighting’ will take place at the Harkins Theater 101 located at Scottsdale Road and the 101 freeway on Sunday, November 29th at 6:00 pm.
The popularity of ‘Come Out Fighting’ is also surprising to Ricci when considering how close his film came to never even making it to the screen. “I started out (making) the film with a local director, but he turned out NOT to be the guy for the job” Ricci said. “After I was delivered an almost un-watchable first cut, I had to bring in veteran director Eric Weston from Hollywood, who really deserves most of the credit for turning this film around and making it what it is today. Director of photography Steve Wargo came in on the re-shoots because we had to re-shoot quite a bit of the film to make it work.” Ricci was surprised and touched by the rallying support he received from the talented members of the local film community and elsewhere. Musician John Parr of ‘Saint Elmo’s Fire’ fame provided the title song for the film after cast member and Parr bandmate Headly Taylor (he plays Einstein the bartender) mentioned the film to Parr.
Set during the recent recession, ‘Come Out Fighting’ follows the story of construction worker Jazz (played by Ricci) who has just been laid off and is in serious need of immediate funds. At the local watering hole, Jazz rescues a chronic gambler named Freddie (Anthony Pavelich) from being clobbered in a bar fight. Freddie seizes upon the pugilistic prowess of Jazz as his ticket to fast money and lures the reluctant Jazz into the violently lucrative and colorfully bizarre world of underground street fighting. Their bouts bring them to several strange and dangerous places; from a weird religious cult in the country, to a dusty gravel pit in the desert, just to a name a few. Along the way Jazz meets Gia, (Michelle Palermo) the strong, sad and determined sister of Freddie. Before Jazz can get a shot at the big money prize fight, he has to get past ruthless fight promoter Duke Sutton (Richard Ryan) assisted by his equally merciless spouse Milana (Katrina Matusek Ryan).
‘Come Out Fighting’ maintains a realistic, gritty intensity throughout the film, never slipping into high, effects-laden action and heavily choreographed fighting. The street fights are realistic and bloody and the dirty, rundown and depressed backdrop of the film continually stays in sync with the action. The characters are believable and Jazz quickly becomes the recession era hero everyone can relate to; beaten, bloody and defeated by the heartless, corporate forces of financial oppression. Jazz is often down but certainly not out. Not ever. The dialog is simple and the action is succinct. While sometimes bizarre and strange, the fight situations remain tethered in realism, as the dark labyrinth of underground street fighting finds mobsters and cops, doctors and ditch diggers rooting side by side in a dingy warehouse for their fighter to bring home the rent money.
“’Come Out Fighting has a lot of heart’ is what I am hearing from everyone who has seen it. It’s a feel good movie about 2nd chances” Ricci said. “The cast of almost all local talent did an incredible job with their performances, I couldn’t have asked for better actors in those roles. Anthony Pavlich and Michelle Palermo just captured the essence of those roles. Richard Ryan as Duke ate it up and he was also instrumental in choreographing the fight scenes.” The positive momentum ‘Come Out Fighting’ has maintained from the get-go only seems to be growing stronger as Ricci explained “Since the first screening on November 7th, I’ve screened the film on the lot at Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, and the consensus there was the same; it was very well received and that’s the major leagues over there! So, where it goes?… we’ll see. I am extremely grateful and very proud of all of the people who helped make this film come to life.”
What – Come Out Fighting encore screening.
Where – Harkins 101 7000 E. Mayo Blvd. Phoenix, AZ 85054. 480-538-1707 (Loop 101 & Scottsdale Rd.)
When – Sunday, November 29th at 6:00 pm.
How much – This event is free and open to the public.