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Girlfight ★★★ 1999 (R)

Scrappy feminist coming-of-age drama is the feature debut from director Karyn Kusama. Diana (Rodriguez) is a high-school senior with a bad temper and a penchant for trouble. Her single dad, Sandro (Calderon), encourages her brother Tiny (Santiago) to work with a boxing trainer but refuses to allow his daughter to participate. Diana decides to train anyway, and her determination finds her becoming the gym's first female champ. She falls in love with fellow promising amateur Adrian (Douglas), setting the stage for an unlikely mixed gender bout between the two. The movie strains reality when it has Diana fight Adrian, but the feeling throughout is heartfelt without being overly sentimental. And at least she doesn't howl “Yo Adrian” afterwards. 90m/ C VHS, DVD . Jamie Tirelli, Michelle Rodriguez, Santiago Douglas, Ray Santiago, Elisa Bacanegra, Paul Calderon, John Sayles; D: Karyn Kusama; W: Karyn Kusama; C: Patrick Cady; M: Theodore Shapiro. Ind. Spirit ‘01: Debut Perf. (Rodriguez); Sundance ‘00: Director (Kusama), Grand Jury Prize.