Like a lot of faith-based films, the Christian MMA drama "The Fight Within" can't decide which audience it wants to serve: fundamentalist churchgoers seeking a reaffirming message, or people who want to see a good movie but would be open to a little sermonizing.
John Major Davis stars as Logan Chandler, a martial artist who quits competing and becomes a trainer when his father dies of a heart attack during an intense practice session. When his brother and the other guys at the gym try to bait Logan into taking part in a well-paying cage-match, he turns to his new girlfriend, the deeply Christian Emma (Lelia Symington), to help him understand what the Bible would advise.
Director Michael William Gordon does what he can with a largely inexperienced and unskilled cast, and with a script by writer-producer Jim Davis that leans heavy on corny melodramatic contrivances. One of his most frequent tricks for steering clear of the amateur actors and crummy dialogue is to load up on montages. (For those who've always wanted to see five minutes of swimming and jet-skiing set to a Christian country-rock song, this is your movie.)
Ultimately though, "The Fight Within" is too generic as a sports flick, and too pro forma as a tract. There's more vitality and humanity in the closing-credits blooper reel than in anything in the actual picture.
'The Fight Within'
MPAA rating: PG-13, for some sports violence and brief menace
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: AMC Norwalk 20, Norwalk; AMC Ontario Mills 30, Ontario; AMC Orange 30, Orange