September 27, 2023



Miguel Packs An Emotional Punch in Hulu’s High-Energy Fighting Comedy

Miguel Packs An Emotional Punch in Hulu’s High-Energy Fighting Comedy

The unwritten laws of the street dictate that when a brawl breaks out, you’re obligated to join in and defend your crew. So it’s a peculiar contradiction that Miguel, the spirited protagonist of Hulu’s new action comedy Miguel Wants to Fight, has never actually thrown a punch himself. Though his friends aren’t looking for trouble, they’ve still managed to get dragged into a scrap or two over the years. What’s more, Miguel’s own father operates a boxing gym, and the kid idolizes legendary martial arts heroes like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Yet despite all this, Miguel remains an inexperienced pacifist in a world that demands he fight.

The children’s book Miguel Wants to Fight illustrates a common human tendency – avoiding difficult conversations by seeking out distractions. The young protagonist, Miguel, would rather get into a brawl than reveal to his friends that his family is moving away. While the premise seems straightforward, authors Jason Concepcion and Shea Serrano skillfully use this simple narrative to explore relatable themes of reluctance, apprehension and the inner turmoil that often accompanies major life changes. By the end, what appeared to be a story about juvenile misbehaviour reveals itself as one about the universal struggles of growing up.
Miguel’s contentment in Syracuse is suddenly disrupted when he learns that his family will be relocating to Albany in just one week. Unable to fathom daily life without his closest friends David, Cass and Srini, Miguel hatches a reckless scheme to engage in fisticuffs with a random classmate, hoping to demonstrate his steadfast loyalty. Though his companions question the wisdom of this endeavour, their allegiance compels them to support Miguel’s quest. Operating under the clandestine title “Operation Miguel Fights,” the group meticulously crafts guidelines to govern the impending skirmish. However, orchestrating the ideal circumstances for battle proves far more arduous than strategizing from the safety of their headquarters. Despite the integrity of his intentions, Miguel may find that a display of brawn is no substitute for the bonds forged over years of camaraderie. In the end, the strength of character is not proven through combat, but through the richness of one’s relationships.

Miguel Wants to Fight adopts an inventive visual style reminiscent of a retro video game, with dynamic graphic design by Monica Palmer and a lively score from Rafael Lazzaro. These playful elements, along with the witty script by Concepcion and Serrano, give the film an energetic rhythm as Miguel progresses through his comedic quest. The fight scenes choreographed by Junchang Lu intentionally embrace a cartoonish absurdity, reflecting the fantastical dreams of an imaginative teen.

Yet beneath the mirthful exterior lies the poignant drama. Miguel’s closest companion David harbours concerns over his friend’s odd behaviour, revealing the depth of their fraternal bond. Still grieving his father’s death, David aims to honour his promise to excel in school and leave fighting behind. Christian Vunipola depicts David as stoic yet affected by years of loss. Rodriguez skillfully balances the lighter action-comedy with the more serious emotional undertones, particularly David’s story which nods to Creed. Ultimately both heart and humour shine through this tale of loyal friendship tested by change.

The repeated losses suffered by Miguel, the protagonist of Miguel Wants to Fight, can feel a bit monotonous, particularly toward the end of the story. While his opponents all pose distinct threats – the bully, the sneering brand-name snob, the racist classmate – the expectation that Miguel will fall short makes their battles run together. Rather than focusing on the choreography of kicks and punches, the reader starts to disengage and wonder when Miguel will finally confront his inner demons. By having fight after fight end in defeat, the narrative risks becoming repetitive and causing the audience’s interest to flag before Miguel can face his true fears.

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Jhon Steve