Diana Guzman vs. Adrian Sturges, 'Girlfight' (2000)
Long before she fought on Pandora and got both fast and furious, Michelle Rodriguez was already perfecting what's arguably her secret weapon: that do-not-fuck-with-me glare. Her character, the public-housing teen and would-be pugilist Diana Guzman, takes up training at her brother's gym and develops a passion for the sport. Eventually, she starts taking on opponents — including her on-again/off-again boyfriend Adrian (Santiago Douglas) in an amateur featherweight tournament final. He's extremely reluctant to fight a girl, much less Diana, but after a tentative first round, they lose themselves to the sports. ("I don't care who this guy is to you," her trainer says. "Don't be afraid to hurt him.") Their relationship is staked on a willingness to hold nothing back and to fight on equal terms.
Pretend boxing skills: Rodriguez and Douglas are both playing amateurs, with the attendant headgear and glancing blows, so the impact of the fight isn't as visceral as the fake-professional bouts on this list. But the action seems appropriately scaled to the event. 8
Style: Over three rounds, director Karyn Kusama mixes up her approach effectively: The first is tentative and slow, with both fighters (and the camera) reluctant to engage; the second is more active, as they land meaningful punches; and the third is a slo-mo ballet between two young people who are taking their relationship to the ring. 9
Stakes: This is New York's first gender-blind amateur boxing final. Go, Diana, Go! 10
Overall rating: 9