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The Fighter is a winner.
Matt_Layden23 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The story of Micky "Irish" Ward and his boxing career with his crack addicted brother at his side. Apparently Marky Mark was so hell bent on getting this film made that he stayed in "shape" for years and years just in case the film went into production. That's dedication and passion for you, yet the man still manages to be the weak link.

It's not really his fault, David O. Russell packed the film with a lot of talent. Christian Bale plays Dicky Ecklund, Micky's crack addicted brother who tells the same story over and over again, about him knocking out Sugar Ray Leonard. It's his claim to fame. There is a film crew following him around, he thinks it's going to be about his comeback, yet it's really about the harsh realities of crack addiction. Bale, again, submerses himself in the role. He is pure method. You can not like him as a person, or even an actor, but you can't deny his passion for the art. He is on the thin side again, with thin balding hair and brown teeth. He looks deathly ill in every scene. The man has one of his finest roles to date and will no doubt be nominated come award season. I hope he actually takes home the award. He is without a doubt, the most interesting character in the film.

Their mother is played by Melissa Leo, another performance worthy of recognition come award season. Her desire to see her kids rise to fame blind her from the truth. She denies the drugs and the failures and believes she knows what's best for her kids. This means not letting them get a real chance because it would be with a real manager and she would be left behind. Family is important to her and she wants to keep everyone very close, even if it harms their chance at making a name for themselves. She of course, doesn't realize this. Amy Adams is the love interest, you know there had to be one. She manages to pull Micky away from the family that is dragging him down. They don't like her for it. She has her own inspirations too, yet the story isn't interested in them. The main focus of the film is with Micky's bumpy road to the championship fight. Since this is based on a true story, I can't really fault it for becoming a bit formulaic and predictable, yet it is.

David O. Russell is notorious for getting angry and violent with his crew/cast. He was in a physical fight with George Clooney on the set of Three Kings and anyone can go on youtube and check out the melt down he and Lily Tomlin had on the set of I Heart Huckabees. Both films coincidentally star Mark Walhberg, so it seems he doesn't have a problem working with the combative director. I can't deny that the man has talent. I really love Three Kings and found I Heart Huckabees to be an ambitious project for the sheer weirdness of it all. With The Fighter, he plays to a more conventional audience. In terms of boxing films, it works. It plays on the down and out character, the poverty of his life and the sheer determination he has to make a name for himself. It's no Rocky, or as others have mentioned Raging Bull, but it is good enough to be mentioned with them.

Russell always has an eye for a creative shot. Check out Three Kings colour scheme for what I mean. Here he uses TV cameras for the boxing matches. Interesting move, it feels like we are watching it at home and are not really in the ring with them. I admire directors who think outside of the box. Russell does this, no problem. He also decides to include real footage of the characters. The film has some home video segments throughout and during the credits we get to meet the real Micky Ward and Dicky Eckland, which is even more reason to appreciate Bale's performance.

The film trips a bit because of the lack of emotion from Walhberg. I dig the guy and enjoy his films, but his range isn't there yet. When given a role that he can play the absurdity of, he scores. Watch The Departed for that. For a film where the audience needs to get behind a character, to root and cheer for them to overcome their obstacles, he falls a little short. Thank goodness the film makes up for this with the performances from Bale and Leo.

The Fighter features great music, engaging performances and a predictable, yet true story. I felt attached to the characters and hoping they would make smart decisions. If a film can get me to care about the characters, I say bravo.

The Fighter is a winner in my books.
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Wahlberg's Corner
littlemartinarocena28 December 2010
In many ways, "The Fighter" is the film of 2011. A family drama with a pugilistic background. The punches, physical and emotional in and out of the ring took me completely by surprise. What didn't surprise me was Mark Wahlberg's signature all over the place. Let me explain: Many years ago I was at a lecture by director Martin Donovan when during the Q&A somebody made fun of the fact that Calvin Klein underwear model Marky Mark had played a part (his first acting role) in Donovan's made for TV "The Substitute" Donovan with elegance, wit and firmness destroyed the guy asking the question, describing Wahlberg's strengths and ended up saying "Mark Wahlberg will be one of the top actors around and he will probably be running Hollywood within a decade" I had Donovan's words buzzing in my ears when I sat speechless watching "Boogie Nights". Wahlberg also produced "Entourage" and the startling "In Treatment". He now produced "The Fighter" and his performance, interior and powerful, dominates the film allowing other members of the cast, to shine in truly showy roles, Christian Bale for instance - really good. Melissa Leo is a stand out as the mother/manager. Superb. So I won't be surprised to see Mark Wahlberg receiving the top honors at the next Academy Awards, as an actor and producer. He certainly deserves it. Bravo!
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A Winner On Multiple Levels
Chrysanthepop28 January 2011
Does David O. Russell's 'The Fighter' follow the formula of underdog surpassing all obstacles and winning in the end (as is the case with this genre)? The answer is yes but 'The Fighter' still manages to maintain a unique quality. First of all, the four principle characters: Micky, Dicky, Charlene and Alice are unlike anyone one has seen in this kind of film.

They are wonderfully defined and the actors who portray them are cast against type and turn in their finest performance. Both Melissa Leo and Amy Adams are like you've never seen them before and they appear very natural on screen. Mark Wahlberg is superly restrained and Christian Bale does one of his best works of his entire career. They are supported by a host of impressive actors.

In addition to the marvelous performances, the makeup department has done a remarkable job, especially by making Leo look old enough to play Bale and Wahlberg's mother. Bale actually does look years older than Wahlberg (when in reality he's a year younger) and that just adds more to the authenticity.

From the opening sequence, I was under the impression that 'The Fighter' was going to be a documentary-type movie but O. Russell tricks and surprises the audience with that. His execution is subtle unlike the loud approach which other directors commonly follow.

For me 'The Fighter', is more about the human connection than the sports itself. Boxing is clearly a metaphor as is the title which has multiple meanings. Even though he's been constantly let down by his family, Micky chose to give them a second chance and have them by his side. Even though Charlene disapproves Alice and Dicky's involvement in Micky's career, Dicky attempts to persuade her because he knows that Micky won't stand a chance without her by his side. Even though Alice and Charlene don't see eye to eye, there's a silent acceptance between them as they know that Micky needs them both.

I am really beginning to have more respect for Mark Wahlberg for producing gems like this (in addition to some amazing TV-series like 'In Treatment', 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'Entourage') and his growth as an actor is obviously apparent (he just needs to avoid tripe like 'The Happening' at all costs).

'The Fighter' is a winner on various levels.
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Conventional script elevated by great direction and fantastic performances
Monotreme0218 December 2010
After Rocky, Raging Bull, Ali, Million Dollar Baby, Cinderella man, and many others, one begins to wonder how many more boxing movies we really need in the world, and what a new one can bring to the table. Indeed, watching The Fighter, one can't help but wonder what the film can do to renew the genre and bring something new to the table. Unfortunately, the answer is "nothing much". The script is a pretty conventional rags-to-riches story, whose most interesting element is the relationship between Micky Ward and his brother, Dickie Eklund. Luckily, Russell and company recognized that this was the strongest aspect of what is otherwise a good but ordinary and somewhat flawed script, with some problems with flat characterizations and unnatural-sounding dialogue. However, everyone involved in the film tries their best to transcend the script, and for the most part, they succeed.

Russell's direction is absolutely fantastic. His use of the camera – which still has that indie looseness, free-moving and hand-held and gritty quality to it, which really adds to the atmosphere and energy the film tries to capture. His staging of scenes is fantastic and he usually just lets his actors riff off of one another, sometimes sticking to the script but sometimes talking over one another, interrupting, and creating a very dynamic back-and- forth that further lends to the realistic quality of the film and its setting. A fantastic rock- oriented soundtrack only adds to this energy and atmosphere. In terms of bringing something new to the table of boxing movies, Russell employs a very interesting technique of filming the boxing scenes as they were shown on HBO pay-per-view TV in the 90's; cheap video quality, multi-camera set-ups, the whole package. The boxing scenes were all shot over 3 days, which left the crew just enough time to run through one boxing match at a time and just shooting it as if it were an actual match, the cameras capturing everything, including mistakes and mess-ups and spontaneous, uncontrolled occurrences which yet again add to the very loose and realistic style the film attempts to capture. It is a very interesting and unique technique I have not seen used before, and I thought it was a fresh approach to boxing scenes, which have become very conventional ever since Raging Bull.

Ultimately, though, this is a movie about two brothers and their overcoming demons and obstacles in order to succeed and reach their mutual goal, together. Being a character-based film, the success of the acting is a key to the success of the film, and luckily, it is in this field that the film succeeds the most. Mark Wahlberg is adequate in the lead role of Micky Ward. I have never thought much of him as an actor and think that he did an "okay" job on this film; not bad but not particularly noteworthy. However, his supporting cast all shine, and his chemistry with them, especially with Christian Bale, is really what sells the movie for me. Bale's achievement is nothing short of revolutionary. He completely steals the show as Micky's crack-addicted older brother and trainer, a former boxer himself, and a shadow of his old self, except he can still throw one hell of a punch and knows just what Micky needs to do in order to succeed. Bale completely embodies the role and really gives it his all – both in his appearance (hollow cheeks, bulgy eyes, balding) but also in his bravura performance. It is an incredible feat of acting, one of the best I have seen all year; Bale's best work as an actor yet, and totally deserving of all the accolades it will inevitably receive. Also worth mentioning though are the two main female supporting roles, namely Amy Adams as the tough and sassy but supportive girlfriend, and Melissa Leo as the overbearing mother. Both actresses are very much out of their comfort zone, which is just what makes their performances so good. Adams, who has never really shown her tough side like she does in this film, does a spectacular job, and really creates someone human and relatable out of what is otherwise an underwritten character. The same goes for Melissa Leo: her character could have gone the completely one-dimensional villainous way, but Leo adds a certain humanity to the character which just makes her seem more sad than vicious.

Ultimately, The Fighter tells a pretty conventional story in an interesting and not necessarily conventional way. It is a film that could have been over-dramatized and heavy-handed had it been put in another director's hands (see Cinderella Man for an example of over- dramatization), but Russell and his cast reign it in and set out to create a very specific atmosphere and set a particular mood that lends the film a sense of realism and a very unique dynamic energy that, with the help of the fantastic performances from the cast, help carry it above and beyond its conventional script.
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Excellent cast focuses boxing drama on family dynamics not usual themes
Movie_Muse_Reviews27 December 2010
When it comes to winning awards, boxing films seem to always be contenders; as such, the thought of watching "another boxing film" can be off-putting. But "The Fighter" hangs in and fends off those labels, earning every bit of its critical praise. That's because most of the fighting in this film takes place out of the ring; "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) spars with the troublesome brother who trains him and his mother who manages him and these superb supporting characters have their own challengers to overcome.

David O. Russell brings a needed dose of realism to the boxing genre, downplaying the underdog nature of Micky's true story and focusing on the relationships that push him through and hold him back all throughout his journey toward the welterweight title. Much of the time, in fact, the story feels equally Micky's and his brother's. Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale), as beat over our heads early in the film, went ten rounds with Sugar Ray Leonard and knocked him down, becoming the pride of small working-class town Lowell, Mass. — which as one might imagine, wasn't hard.

But Dickie, an off-kilter, fun-loving yet irresponsible guy (a transformative performance from Bale to say the least), spends the time he's not training Micky in crack houses. In fact, he's completely oblivious to the fact that HBO is following him around for their documentary on crack abuse, not one about his "comeback." It's clear that his behavior is keeping Micky, whose had a string of bad losses of late, down. After an embarrassing fight in which Micky was mismatched, Micky suddenly finds himself wondering whether he should keep his boxing career and family separate.

The idea of it irritates Micky's mother Alice, played by Melissa Leo, who impressively embodies every controlling mother. Alice sits in her house most days and smokes cigarettes while her seven grown daughters pathetically vie for her attention. Leo keeps Alice from being an aggravating total monster, providing a more complete picture of a mother whose blurred the line between business and family.

Amy Adams also excels in her supporting role, a bartender and college dropout, but one who — like the audience — sees how Micky's family has kept him back and as his girlfriend pushes him toward the right path. Interestingly, as she grows more invested in Micky's career, the script divides her from the audience, which gives her performance more weight.

Russell's characters have a harsh reality to them, much like the Boston-based characters in Ben Affleck's films "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town." In addition to looks, clothes and mannerisms, Russell chooses a more hand-held documentary feel for the film like Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" and even opts to film parts of the boxing sequences with lenses like the ones used in the late '90s to give the feel of watching a live broadcast.

The fights, though effective, remain secondary to the other "fighting." Watching Dickie spiral downward and come back up again, Alice have trouble letting go and Micky struggle to speak up for himself and recognize what he truly needs serves as the more compelling conflict. All together, they give "The Fighter" the best ensemble cast of 2010. And like all great boxing films, all these tensions blow in and out make their way symbolically into the boxing ring for that final fight. As Dickie urges on his brother in the waning rounds of the championship fight, he captures it perfectly when he says "everything that's happened, take that out there with you."

The emotional moments of "The Fighter" do lack a real knockout and many intimate moments are tempered with humor in awkward but not scene-ruining ways, but rather than be a heavyweight drama that rides the underdog story for two hours, "The Fighter" opts to be something a bit more natural by fixing on the right things: the people and the personal relationships that hurt or harm us, are all essential to our success.

~Steven C

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Great direction and performances make this an excellent film
Red_Identity2 January 2011
Do we have a lot of sport films where the underdog ends up winning and overcoming many obstacles along the way until the end? Definitely. Does The Fighter succeed? Very much so...

For a film like this it is very difficult to make it completely unpredictable, yet while The Fighter is in a way conventional, it is also unpredictable many times. It has great characters to boot, but also a strong cast that is willing to give it their all. This is the best ensemble cast of the year,, many amazing performances. First, I start off with Mark Wahlberg, who has been the most under the radar, but he is definitely up for this. He is a great lead and I am surprised he was as good as he was. I am also very pleasantly surprised by Amy Adams. Not to say she is a bad actress, but I was always used to her roles all being similar and now she is in a completely different role for her, and to say she succeeds is an understatement. She is excellent, and is only made strong when sharing the screen with any other actor. Melissa Leo is also great, and I think she is on par with Adams. The difference between Adams and Leo is that Leo has the more award-baity role. Now we have Christian Bale, who I do think is the best. I have seen his performances and while he has always been good, he has never truly risen above others in his films, here he does. He is excellent, and he as of now deserves that Oscar.

David Russel's direction is part of what makes this film so great, He soars scenes to unbelievable heights and I think that the screenplay in another director's hands would have came out with a merely good film. But here, we have an excellent film, perhaps better than 2008's The Wrestler, and one of the best films of the year.
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A winner!
jdesando27 December 2010
"O the joy of the strong-brawn'd fighter, towering in the arena in perfect condition, conscious of power, thirsting to meet his opponent." Walt Whitman

Mark Wahlberg has achieved a career high with The Fighter, not so much for his acting, which is eclipsed by a supportive cast that would be hard to beat in the Oscar race, but because he fought for years to bring the story of Lowell, Mass. to the screen. He caught perfectly the blue-collar town's karma and their devotion to the fighting brothers, "Irish" Mickey Ward (Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale).

Director David O. Russell has assembled this cast around the idea that a town in the shadow of Boston can become world famous as its sons become winners in the ring. But then, Stallone did more for Philadelphia as Rocky, so what's the big deal? Like Ben Affleck's excellent thriller this year about Boston in The Town, Fighter captures place and struggle in equal dramatic measure as filmmakers take a close look at the working class's struggles over the last 30 years. While Million Dollar Baby (2004) focused on trainer and fighter and Cinderella Man (2005) gave a microscopic view of a troubled fighter and his small family, The Fighter does all of that with a vigor as exhausting as a bout itself.

The Fighter is not just about boxing because as in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980), it's all about people who find in the sport a way to transcend their social prison. In The Fighter, it is more even about family, which weighs heavily on Micky's success or failure. And outside family as well, for girlfriend, bartender Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams), is a formidable force in liberating Micky from the suffocating family (his five harpy sisters and domineering manager mother, Melissa Leo, fearsome in her cigarette smoke and driving vision for her sons). Unlike other boxing films, Fighter is patient with Micky's long climb to success, almost painfully long but rewarding in the reality of its prolonged struggle.

But it's also the acting that distinguishes it: Christian Bale as Dicky transforms himself again by losing weight and morphing into a manic brother who loves Micky despite Dicky's negative life of drugs and mania; Amy Adams is believable as the gritty but beautiful girl friend; and Melissa Leo plays mom like a lady Macbeth in tight Dockers.

Although there will be heavier films competing for 2010's Oscar, I can't think of another whose cast so eloquently has caught the poverty and riches of a town caught in boxing fever.
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Everyone involved in this film just made a fan of me
MaralynSpeaking29 November 2010
Such a fully satisfying film is a rarity. A story of family, struggle, and love told with great humor, intelligence and heart. I've already seen it twice and am telling everyone I meet to be sure to catch it. I was blown away by Amy Adams' touching performance in JUNE BUG and by the raw beauty of Melissa Leo's work in FROZEN RIVER, but have been slow to distinguish among the crop of young male stars and directors who deserve to be household names. Christian BALE, MARK WAHLBERG, and David O. RUSSELL are names now branded in my consciousness. This season I've been stunned by the creative forces at work in films including SOCIAL NETWORK and JACK GOES BOATING, but for its overall achievement, this amazing film based on the true story of two boxers from Lowell, Massachusetts earns a championship. It is much more than just a fight film or a biopic though it certainly sweeps us into the drama of the boxing ring and quivers with the diamond gleam of truth. Bale's finely etched creation of Dicky and Wahlberg's extraordinary dual turn as producer and star in the role of Dicky's brother Micky should place both men front and center for Oscar nominations along with Russell who shaped the film with a keen sensitivity. Russel's team of artists including cinematographer, costume and sound design were all spot on in their respective contributions. Tho Leo and her gaggle of daughters struck me at first as verging on caricature, I quickly saw that they perfectly captured the family culture while providing a delicious comic motif.
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Well Acted Seen It All Before Boxing Bio-Pic
Theo Robertson29 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When I worked in a kitchen one of my colleagues - Scott - was obsessed with films who seemed to spend every spare moment either in a cinema or at home with a pile of DVDs . I should point that he was someone who had no interest in anything art house . Everything Scott watched had to be either American , feature a big name or feature an action sequence so our tastes weren't very similar . Regardless of this one film Scott felt the need to rave about was THE FIGHTER . I'd seen the trailers and vaguely knew the story of Micky Ward and felt it was going to be clichéd true story bio-pic with embellishment and a happy ending . In other words it was going to be a seen it all before sports movie .

" Okay Scott " I asked " What's the selling point ? "

" The acting Theo .It's brilliantly acted especially Christian Bale who plays MarkWahlberg's brother . He plays his trainer "

Sometimes acting alone can't carry a film - only bring a film down and when I watch a film I'm after a good story so decided not to bother with THE FIGHTER until it was broadcast on Channel 4 . After seeing it I came to the conclusion that both Scott's opinion and my own are totally correct

Bale is an actor who is fortunate in that the roles he will be most remembered for are those that belong in a franchise such as BATMAN BEGINS and TERMINATOR SALVATION . You could argue he's luckier than he is talented but here as Micky Ward's half brother Dicky Eklund , a crack addicted , brain damaged former boxer he gives an acting tour de force . You know when you're on the bus and someone gets on and you mutter to yourself " Please don't sit anywhere near me please " that's the exact feeling you see when Eklund appears on screen . One wonders if Bale should have been drug tested after each scene such is his convincing performance . It's a story of mean streets and of mean people hitting rock bottom and you don't feel you're watching actors merely going through their paces

Where the film does fall down it's down to the usual flaw of making true stories dramatic and having to restructure things . Ward beats up and coming boxer Alfonso Sanchez which means he gets a world title shot against Shea Neary in Britain . In reality Ward fought another 6 fights , losing two of them before he got the title fight against Neary and with all due respect the title fight in question was for the World Boxing Union ( WBU ) which most boxing fans consider a mere " alphabet title " not a world title at all . Also the film feels the need to dramatise the fight with Ward being dead on his feet in round three . In reality Ward was wobbled in that round but didn't hit the deck . The fight was a slugfest for sure but was never as one sided as portrayed here . Perhaps most disappointingly of all Ward's three legendary fights with Arturo Gatti are relegated to a caption at the end of the movie

In all THE FIGHTER is the cinematic equivalent of the battle between Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard . It's a definite split decision . You can se why people loved the film , you can see why people liked the film , you can see why people disliked it and perhaps why people hated it . I'm certainly hedging my bets and voting for a draw
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The Pride of Lowell
ferguson-614 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Greetings again from the darkness. Don't let the hype or the fear of just another "boxing" movie keep you from this one. Yes, it is based on the true story of "Irish" Micky Ward, a boxer from Lowell, Massachusetts, but this is every bit as much a story of family and commitment and tenacity as any story you know.

Directed by David O Russell (I Heart Huckabees), the film does a terrific job of dumping us right smack into this blue collar community and this oh-so-colorful family. Mark Wahlberg stars as Micky Ward, the younger brother of former boxer Dicky Ecklund (a no-holds-barred Christian Bale). Ecklund lived for years off his fight against Sugar Ray Leonard, where Leonard either was knocked down or slipped down. Either way, Dicky is as close to a local legend as it gets. In the mid-80's, younger brother Micky joined the fight game - with Dicky as his trainer and his mother (Melissa Leo) as his manager.

As realistic and believable as the boxing is in the film, the real trick was in presenting Micky's family. The first impression of his mother and gaggle of sisters is that it's a cartoonish presentation. In fact, it's very realistic! When local bartender Charlene (Amy Adams)becomes involved with Micky, she tries to set him straight on exactly what his family is doing to his career.

Oh, did I mention that Dicky was a crackhead? Did I mention that his mother pushed him into fights against upper weight classes because she needed the money? Did I mention that Micky tries to remain loyal to the family ... even to the extent of nearly costing him a shot at a legitimate career? There are some real emotions going on all over this well-paced film. Thanks to the Amy Adams character, we really get to see how an "outsider" views the family, and vice versa. It's not a pretty sight! I can't say enough about Bale's performance as Dicky. He has the movement and gait of both a boxer and a crackhead. His mannerisms mirror that of the real Dicky, as seen over the ending credits. This is crazy good acting. Melissa Leo is fast becoming the hardest working actress in Hollywood. This is the third film I have seen her in this year! Her performance, when combined with Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom, really create some nightmares for kids with creepy mothers! Amy Adams is totally convincing as the pretty, tough love interest and guiding light for Micky. As for Wahlberg, he is quite convincing as a boxer. His physicality is without question. The only thing I didn't like was the couple of times he slipped back into his mumbling, whiny persona. Luckily that effect was minimal.

This is a film I would recommend to most. The only word of caution is the language is quite realistic for working class Lowell, Mass. In other words, the "F" word is utilized in every conceivable manner throughout. It's just part of the community fabric. Also, be warned that the boxing is also quite realistic ... it's a violent sport and that comes across very well. I loved how the boxing matches were filmed digitally for effect. Just a wonderfully well made film with terrific performances ... and actually quite uplifting!
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Wicked outstanding film
johnceallach22 November 2010
This is the film that David O'Russell and the cast and crew have outdone themselves on. the best way to say it is WIcked outstanding. It not only told the story of "Irish" Micky Ward, Dickie Eklund and the family aspect but was a credit to the real internal and external struggle of never giving up. "the fighter " does proper justice to the hardworking ways and the People of Mass and Boston areas.

In this film , the title has a double meaning as not only being a fighter as a boxer but speaks to many that in regular life that being "The Fighter" success can happen if you put the work in. The story does have strong female leads in this film that has never been shown in previous boxing based films. It is a cross over to both worlds ( male and female, Young and Old) and those that would usually skip a Boxing based film as it is much more then just that.

I was at screening of "The Fighter" in the Beverly Hills theater with Director David O'Russell and main Cast ( Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams ,Melissa Leo) The Director and cast show their love and passion for this film and how hard they all worked to make this possible in their very warm words and replies to the questions from the audience. In all , a class group of fine professionals and actors put their heart and soul into this one and I hope their efforts are well rewarded when it comes time to nominate and vote for Oscars.
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Fighting in and out of the ring
Derek23717 December 2010
Wow, what a movie. It's an inspirational true story of a boxer finally getting his break. It's also a story of addiction, and how it can affect loved ones. And above all, it's about family. There are some great boxing scenes in THE FIGHTER, they feel authentic and brutal, but the true fight is really outside the ring. Which is not to say this is an overbearing melodrama, no, far from it. It handles the subject matter gracefully. It has a lot of heart and can be quite funny, and there are some humorously absurd moments, something director David O. Russell has proved to be very good at providing.

Mark Wahlberg gives a great performance playing the lead character, Micky. This is Wahlberg's most reserved and complex role to date. Micky has an unbreakable devotion to his family, which both strengthens and cripples him. He never really speaks for himself, and would rather suffer than upset those around him. Through the course of the movie the character really grows, thanks to the help of a good woman by his side. Mark Wahlberg shows a side of himself we've never seen before, this isn't the over-the-top badass THE DEPARTED Wahlberg, which don't get me wrong, is awesome too, but he finds a different range here. Truly the guy has come a long way from The Funky Bunch.

Christian Bale is absolutely phenomenal in his scene-stealing role as Micky's drug-addicted brother. This is such a great character that Bale really brings a lot of depth to. Dicky's easily angered, often detached and oblivious to how his affliction is affecting his life. He's also ashamed and vulnerable. He's not the most reliable guy in the world and he's in need of a serious wake-up call. But the thing can completely understand why Micky would stand by him for so long. Underneath it all, he really is a great guy, full of energy and affection- somebody you'd really want in your corner. This is sure to go down as one of Bale's most remembered roles, and hopefully his enormous talent will finally be recognized by winning an Academy Award for it.

Behind every great man is a great woman, and Amy Adams also delivers a fantastic performance as Micky's girlfriend, who really helps him develop some backbone and at the same time is able to find some clarity in her misguided life. She's great in her role, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't thoroughly enjoy the eye-candy she brings to the movie. She has her fair share of revealing outfits and in one scene is shown wearing a see-through bra. Now THAT'S great filmmaking!

Also notable, just because it stood out to me, is that Conan O'Brien's sister, Kate, has a role in the movie, playing one of Micky's sisters. I sort of wish I wasn't privy to this information before seeing it because her resemblance to the goofy talk show host is uncanny...and a little disturbing.

I don't know why a lot of the most involving sports movies happen to be about boxing, I guess there's just something so primal and against all logic about people that get the crap beaten out of them for a living. It's worth knowing what makes these people tick. Yes, this is based on a true story, but I'm sure it's been tailored to fit Hollywood needs. Events have likely been rearranged and certain moments probably fabricated or altered, but THE FIGHTER doesn't attempt to portray the family shown here in a completely positive light. Nobody is a saint here, and everyone has their faults. When it finally arrives at its conclusion it is relieving, satisfying, and yes, inspiring. This is ultimately a happy story well deserving to be told on film but the sad reality is that there are no doubt hundreds and hundreds of similar stories that didn't end up quite as well. I can't tell you what exactly makes the family depicted in this movie so special. Maybe they're stronger, and more willing to compromise, and just maybe a little lucky, too. But I was left recalling a scene from the movie THE STRAIGHT STORY, where Richard Farnsworth lays down some wisdom upon a teenage runaway: he told her how he would give each of his kids a stick and ask them to snap them, which was easy. Then he'd give them a whole bundle, which couldn't be broken. "That's family."
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Great performance from Bale. This Could have been epic.
witster1831 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers

The Fighter is a true story about Mickey Ward - my favorite boxer. I grew up around this time, and watched most of the fights featured in the film. I recently wrote a sports-blog(for 4 years) about a variety of sports; boxing, football, baseball, basketball, etc. On one particular occasion I wrote a blog about 'The Top 20 Sports Moments Since 2000'. Amongst them were Michael Phelps' Gold Medal barrage, Usain Bolts' 100 meter world-record, and the 2004 Red Sox winning Major League Baseball's 100th World Series, which ended the Curse of the Bambino. What was #1? What event/moment did I single as the greatest? Mickey Ward's first fight against Arturro Gatti.

It was a fight that made movies like Rocky 3 marginally realistic. The brawl of brawls. The most violent, epic, unforgettable, irreplaceable, 'shake your hand on your buddies head'' moment of sports Godliness. It took boxing fans back to the pre-depression days of bare-knuckle fights and hard-men, and reminded us of the euphoric heights of heart and determination that can be captured in sport.

Not even a strong performance from Christian Bale can make up for that sports' moment being left out of this screenplay. We can only hope that Aronofsky's drama/comedy will get non-boxing fans to look into the career of Mickey Ward - so that they might see that fight.

Bale's performance is amazing, but I don't think that Mark Wahlberg really captured the role of Mickey in the same way. At least he didn't immerse himself into the character in the same way as Bale, and the biggest resemblance he had with Mickey was his physique.

This was a very good movie; entertaining, fast-paced, with a brisk running time. 'The Fighter' isn't quite as good as its' current ranking here, but it should crack the years Ten Best, IMO.

The boxing scenes are more realistic than most, and the interaction between Mickey's family and circle of friends is priceless.

Good. Not great! Nudged out 'The Town' as the best movie I saw this week. If Wahlberg was on par with bale, and if this had gone another half-hour and included the Ward/Gatti fight, it might have scored as high as a 8-8.5.


Solid Recommendation.

You'll like it if you like: Bull Durham, Without Limits, Conviction, and Rocky Balboa.
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Knockout Performances
aharmas20 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
There has been a trend this year to show the darker side of nature in movies, both on TV and on the movie screens, and "The Fighter" continues to expose those festering qualities that prevent us from bonding with each other and might end up having some very toxic results. However, "The Fighter" shows an interesting point of view, as it balances the negative with some redemptive moments; some of which shine because of a very outstanding group of actors.

For starters, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams surpass any work they have previously done as the obsessive and supportive female leads in the story. Leo, as the mother who is blind to her own powerful interventions and interferences, almost leading to the destruction of her own children. Adams, is a tower of strength, with a caustic underside. She is a vulnerable woman who has grown tougher because of her own life experiences, and she finally finds someone who understands and needs her. Still, she must now face a group of siblings who might prove to be more than she wants to handle.

In "The Town" we saw how the environment shapes the nature of human beings, and finding success is pretty elusive. In most cases, the results are the reverse and tragic. Mark Whalberg's Mickey has reached that crucial moment in his life, when he must choose to detach himself from a stiffling family environment and pursue his dream, with the proper support. It is time to go for his life's dream, and though it might be a little too late and very difficult because of Dicky's (Bale) constant self-destructive moves and their aftermath, Mickey might never see his dreams come true.

Bale, who has done superlative work in more than a dozen films, from his superb debut in "Empire of The Sun", completely outshines everyone else in the film, and regardless of the barrage of publicity out there, his is a leading man's turn, dark, subversive, suicidal, pathetic, emotional, and an effective and affective portrayal of a man who is about to hit bottom, someone who is now apparently unaware of how much pain his actions can cause. As the older brother who is now addicted to drugs, he can't see the way he is dragging everyone else into his own hell, especially Mickey, a resilient but sweet character who can't break away from this situation.

Eventually, fortunes change, and we see how it is possible to produce change. "The Fighter" never really explodes or overwhelms. In "The Wrestler" pain was intense both visually and emotionally, almost reaching torture levels for its protagonist and the audience. Here, there is a restrained sense of despair and even exhilaration is portrayed in an almost muted way. We want to ride the emotional waves of the main character, and this hardly happens. Unlike "Milk" where there was a documentary feel that make the events appear almost real, there is something amiss here; yet even that sense of detachment can't keep us from admiring the magnificent work done by Leo, Whalberg, Adams, and most impressively Bale, an actor who understands and undergoes the transformations required by the roles he chooses. It is impossible to imagine a darker Batman, a more demented yuppie, or a more traumatized child. In this movie, his physical and emotional transformation will bewitch you and add you to a list of admirers who have followed an artist who keeps delivering knockout performances, a true champion.
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Supporting Roles stole the limelight
CarpeDiem1215 March 2018
This a great American family drama movie. Shows the ups and downs of a big crazy family with 2 boxers in the family. The big ''legend'' Bale and his young brother Wahlberg. This story is about how the younger brother who looks up to his crack addicted older ''legend' brother for guidance and advice, has to turn away from him and his toxic family to succeed in his boxing career.

It shows the struggles of a young fighter as he attempts to turn his life around after always living in the shadows of his brother. How he faces dilemma's when confronted with his family and newfound love interest (amy adams) about what is good for his career.

Walhberg does a good job with his role but the supporting cast take the cake. Bale, Melissa Leo and Adams all acted incredibly and are worthy of the awards. This just shows how well acted this whole film is.
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It's a sports film that rises above the genre to become something better.
johnshinnick30 December 2010
The Fighter is based on the true story of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward's unlikely rise through the ranks to the WBU (World Boxing Union) light-welterweight title.

Micky's story would be a conventional sports film if not for the presence of his half-brother Dicky, a boxer-turned-trainer whose life was screwed up by crack addiction and the petty crimes that associated with that life.

The brother, played by Christian Bale, makes the story interesting and charges it emotionally. Bale bursts from the skin of his character, igniting every frame with his energy (reminding, occasionally of his role as the high-energy boy in Empire of the Sun). As in The Mechanic, Bale lost a lot of weight preparing for the gaunt crack-addicted brother. He was 100 per cent convincing.

Bale's character, Davy, exudes personality every time he enters a room or walks down a street. You know he is a drug-addled screw up and you know he is going to mess up his brother's life, but the brother loves him and is loyal to him so you want to see Davy rise above his problem.

One of Bale's best scenes was shot on the front porch of the house where Charlene, Micky's girlfriend (played by Amy Adams) lives. Clean and sober after eight months in prison, Dicky carries a ton of baggage to that porch. He has hurt people. He has conned neighbors. He has disappointed everyone but his mother and his half brother. The entire town of Lowell, Massachusetts remembers Dicky as a boxer ("The pride of Lowell") but they also remember him being addicted to crack, so nobody is prepared to believe he has gotten past the addiction during his eight months in prison.

On the porch, Micky, knowing that he carries that baggage, wants to charm Charlene and patch things up for his brother. Charlene, however, is fueled by her complete distrust of Davy. She loves Micky and she has seen Dicky mess up Micky's life over and over again. On the porch, she has just walked away from Micky because he insists on being loyal to Dicky. No way is she going to be easily convinced that Davy has changed.

She is skeptical of every word to come from Dicky's mouth, but Dicky pulls out all the stops in an effort to overcome his baggage and connect with her to make things right for his brother.

The immovable object meets the irresistible force. It is a fine scene.

Amy Adams is equally amazing in this film. As an actor, she is gutsy. Even when she started to command bigger paychecks, she continued to make independent films and bring to those indie films performances that made them better than they might have been. She never shies from a challenge. In this role she plays a worldly bartender who flunked out of college despite a full scholarship in high jump. As an athlete, she can understand with Micky.

In the final analysis, it is Amy Adams who makes the chemistry work between Charlene and Micky. Wahlberg can be as wooden as Ben Affleck when it comes to romantic subtleties. Amy Adams in this role is like one of those good dancers on Dancing With The Stars who has to work with a partner who might as well be a post or a tree stump. While Wahlberg is unmoving, Amy Adams' performance reaches out and emotionally draws the scenes together.

The Fighter has dimension to it, and a lot of the depth from the supporting cast.

The mother played with conviction by Melissa Leo. She runs a family home surrounded by seven adult daughters, and all seem to either be living at home or visiting their mother a lot. The sisters are a hoot, sort of like a Greek chorus on a living room couch. Highly emotional, the sisters hate Micky's girlfriend. I loved them because there was something fascinatingly hideous about the sisters.

Rocky, Raging Bull, Ali, Million Dollar Baby, and Cinderella Man are all fight films that have taken the viewer where The Fighter goes. No surprise there. Micky, as you expect, gets the crap beaten out of him. He struggles through the rank. He gets his shot at a title and he enters the ring against a better boxer to compete for a world championship. The sports genre always travels down a well-beaten path and always takes us to a happier place. Every sports film tells this oft-told tale. You enjoy the genre because getting there is what makes sports films a pleasure.

The Fighter benefits from the fact that it is not just a sports film but a story of family and redemption. You family is important, addiction is not unbeatable. The Fighter is a feel good film with a lot of ugly stuff to overcome.

IAlthough I put The Fighter along side most of the other boxing films, it could have been a lot better. If Micky had been more three-dimensional, the film might have been a classic. The elements are there, struggle and redemption. It's a true story with a lot of subtext, and that alone makes it better than Rocky. Unfortunately, Wahlberg is no DeNiro so it's no Raging Bull, and the script isn't up to Million Dollar Baby.

That said, The Fighter is worth seeing. You'll like it for the performances by Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and character actors whose faces you'll recognize from dozens of other films and television performances. You will love it for the feel-good arc, the love and redemption that are built into this genre.

If you like boxing, you'll love the action. The camera work in the ring scenes is first rate and convincing. On the big screen, you feel every punch.

However, if you are of that generation that hates boxing but likes cage fighting, there's no hope for you, sorry …
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The Fighter driven only by flawless performances.
jcaesar-012513 March 2017
Look, i like the film, I think it's awesome but I also think were the characters were played by less effective actors, this wouldn't be as awesome as it is. The biggest fault for me, is that the main character has less personality than most sports characters in sport films. Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) has a crackhead brother, former boxing great played flawlessly by Christian Bale, and he has manager-mom played by brilliant Melissa Leo. Mark Wahlberg has range, he is a good actor, but Mickey just fell flat for me. I wasn't invested much in Mickey so when the boxing matches came on, I didn't care much. But the performances by the backup cast are fantastic. If anything, that's worth the concession price.
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Two Brothers
sol-25 February 2017
On the rise to fame and success, a young boxer must decide whether to continue training with his family or seek professional training and management elsewhere in this sports drama based on true events. Mark Wahlberg is solid as the conflicted boxer in question and Amy Adams does well cast-against-type as his foul-mouthed bartender girlfriend, but is Christian Bale who steals every scene he is in as Wahlberg's older brother. A former boxing legend himself, Bale has delusions of grandeur and believes that the TV crew who have recently arrived to film him are making a documentary about his long awaited comeback when in reality they are making a film about his descent into heroine addiction. The overall film fascinatingly follows this structure too, opening with a lot of focus on Bale, only for Wahlberg to be eventually revealed as the true star (what a great metaphor for Bale's character coming to realise that not everything is about him). Melissa Leo also gets quite a bit of screen time as the brothers' overbearing mother, however, the rest of the family are disappointingly barely fleshed out all, including Jack McGee as Wahlberg's father, who could have been quite interesting given that he actually sides with Adams about his son's career. As for the sisters, they are all interchangeable stereotypes. This is, however, principally a film about the brothers and their every interaction is compelling. The end credits are also worth watching here for appearances by the brothers whose lives the film was based on - Dicky and Micky Ward.
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A Powerhouse Of Riveting Performances, The Fighter Is David O. Russell's Best Film To Date
CinemaClown12 September 2016
Powered by terrific performances from its cast, The Fighter also happens to be David O. Russell's best film to date that may not rank amongst the finest examples of its genre but it still serves as a competently crafted sports biopic that's less about the sport & more about the athlete, his family & his path to redemption.

The story of The Fighter follows the life of professional boxer Micky Ward who withdraws from the boxing world after suffering a humiliating defeat in a match he already had reservations about. The plot chronicles the journey he takes to get back into the ring while focusing on his relationship with his brother whose own life has taken a self-destructive route.

Directed by David O. Russell (best known for Silver Linings Playbook & American Hustle), the story journeys the same route that majority of boxing films tend to take plus also falls flat in between on a few occasions but what infuses a vibrant energy into it is the rich set of interesting characters it packs in & a talented ensemble that brings those characters to life with finesse.

The boxing sequences are brilliantly choreographed and do provide the necessary adrenaline high when it matters but this picture is more focused on the relationship between the two brothers and illustrates it amazingly well, for those moments do pack a powerful punch. But it also suffers from letting it characters go a bit overboard at times, something that has become a norm in O. Russell's films of lately.

Coming to the performances, the cast comprises of Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Christian Bale & Melissa Leo, with Bale & Leo impressing the most. It's not that the input by leading cast falls short in any aspect, it's just that Bale & Leo take their supporting characters to a different level, and the Academy Award they won for their respective works in this feature film is definitely an earned one.

On an overall scale, The Fighter is no genre masterpiece but it still offers a sufficiently entertaining ride that will leave majority of its viewers satisfied in the end. It's not without its shortcomings but most of them get brushed away by the powerful, explosive & riveting performances delivered by its ensemble. The story isn't memorable by any means but what Bale & Leo pull off here will continue to reverberate for a few more years down the line.
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The Bale show
joao-desousamiranda10 July 2015
The Fighter is a biography about two brothers with modest beginnings in a small US city. Bale plays the older brother, a drug addict and a failed past in boxing practice. Mark Wahlberg is the younger brother, protagonist of the story and the sportsman's most successful in this dysfunctional family, though it be the cause of your lack of progress. Bale and Melissa Leo (played well a compliant and fanatic mother) won one Oscar with this film, but the role of Amy Adams is also relevant. Given the characteristics of the actors themselves, it would be hard to get better for the type of characters that exist in the film. I really liked the character of Amy Adams but Christian Bale's performance is awesome. One more character to remember.
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A well-told boxing story appealing to the inside jock hibernating in most of us.
grinchbkb19 February 2011
I loved The Fighter the first time I saw it. It probably has a lot to do with my infatuation with boxing films as a genre – Raging Bull and When We Were Kings rank high in my personal movie pantheon. Russel visibly knows the canon perfectly and manages to pay tribute to all these great virile sport flicks without ending up making a pastiche. The Fighter is full of intertextuality – from the font of the boxing matches' captions to the training routines – it's knowingly self-referential but also playing strictly by the rules, and that's why it works so well despite what could be easily dismissed as a cliché-laden script of another underdog narrative.

The Fighter is based on the real life story of Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg), a taciturn and limited proletarian grafter very similar to Rocky Balboa (if the latter was Irish and not Italian), trained by his brother Dicky (Christian Bale) like Jake La Motta in Raging Bull. The difference here with Scorsese's classic is that the only sane and sensible character is the fighter; his dysfunctional and self- destructive family (his brother has a serious drug problem while his mom is plain greedy) become his main obstacle on his way to victory. Loyal to his family till the end, Ward wastes his best years until his brother ends up in prison for one crack stunt too many. Now in the twilight of his career, and with the help of his girlfriend, a local barmaid, and a grumpy Irish cop (played by his real-life counterpart) Mickey finds his way back to the ring and stumbles on a chance to fight for the world title, his one and only shot at glory. Will he capture it? Or just let it slip? etc. You get the idea.

Christian Bale once again delivers the performance of a lifetime as the brother/coach of the title character, a local boxing legend turned crack-head. He adds a new dimension to the film, somewhat between cartoonish and pathetic, as if he came straight out of Trainspotting. His lame schemes to support his habit are hilarious, as are his friends from the crackhouse, depicted in the same warm, non-judgemental way of Danny Boyle's cult film. Bale's extravagant albeit touching portrayal is also reminiscent of Samuel L. Jackson's performance in Jungle Fever, perfectly channelling the madness of the moment under the influence of crack, while maintaining the character's humanity and integrity, avoiding to turn into a white Tyrone Biggums.

In the ropes, Mark Walhberg does what he does best: toughness + Irishness. Bringing vulnerability, grit and authenticity to the film, he leaves the flamboyance to Bale, who in return happily chews the scenery. Marky Mark could have just as easily steal the show like in The Departed but chooses not to. Definitely an underrated actor – mainly because he's capable of restraint.

This is David O. Russel's finest movie since Three Kings, a long awaited comeback for the director who wraps it up perfectly, playing with the different takes on the pugilistic genre, from the ESPN Classic approach (the shooting of a documentary on Dicky unfolds as an important storyline within the film while offering a welcome mise-en-abîme) to the Hollywoodian reconstitution and dramatisation of reality. The boxing fights, alternating inside-the-ring shots à la Raging Bull and HBO's satellite coverage style, are infectiously gripping and perfectly edited. Finally, the recurring use of the song "How You Like Me Now" by The Heavy brings energy and coherence, appropriately opening and closing the film.

Admittedly, The Fighter is nothing that we haven't seen before, and was clearly made to provide Christian Bale with a custom-made Oscar vehicle. It is no Michael Man's Ali though, and it is to the credit of the director and the cast if The Fighter still manages to pack a serious punch. A well-told sporting story will always appeal to the inside jock hibernating in most of us.
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The Fighter packs a hell of a punch...
markymark7014 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Ever since it was announced that Wahlberg was trying to get this film made - and that was a looooooong time ago at this stage - I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this film. I was not disappointed.

Not to re-hash the story too much but this is a real life story of Boston boxer 'Irish' Micky Ward and the struggles with his career, personal and family life in the mid-90s. Wahlberg is Micky Ward and Bale plays his crack addicted, squirrelly brother Dicky Eklund.

The style of the film is more realistic than the likes of 'Rocky', 'Raging Bull' and other fight films. It has some nice HBO TV style fight scenes which is shot is a clearer presentation akin to watching the bouts on prime-time television. But the meat of the story and the conflict is not in Micky's quest to achieve a world title - but in his ultimately uncomfortable relationship he has with his family. 7 girls, 2 boys, 2 fathers and 1 mother is a hell of a mix in a poor neighbourhood. Add to that Micky's mother is also his manager, his brother is his coach, his father also a coach and you see how complicated this could become. Micky is essentially the meal ticket for the entire clan.

Performances: Bale is terrific. If he doesn't get the Best Supporting Actor Oscar this year, then I'll eat my left shoe. (I might regret that last statement as Geoffrey Rush seems to be swooping that accolade for 'The King's Speech') But nonetheless - Bale deserves it. His portrayal of a crack addicted, might-have-been is spot on. Twitchy, wide-eyed, slurred but his stint in prison and the viewing of his so called 'comeback' documentary straightened him out and made him realise what is important. Family. His brother.

Adams is a ballsy character too - she has to be to survive in this environment. A strong woman who stands up for herself and her man against a formidable family group. I didn't know anything about Adams previous to this film but she seems to have that slightly grubby yet likable nature about her.

Leo as the mother/manager is a tough piece of work also. The family actually reminds me of so many families that I grew up with and in - that even though you know it is exaggerated on screen - there are many veins of truth running through it.

Lastly - but not least - Wahlberg himself. He has such a quiet way about him that even though he is a tough cookie, grew up in VERY similar circumstances to Ward and portrays a hardy boxer with a physique to match any professional - he remains an enigma. He comes across as a truly nice guy - both on screen and in real life. Even though he has had his brushes with the law (most famously his own stint in jail for a racist assault which resulted in his victim being left permanently blind in one eye), he really seems to have his life on track. Successful actor, producer, father and husband is a testament to his ability to stay the track. Here - his performance is an understated one but still packs a punch amidst the other more animated characters. He is the soul of the film both on the screen and in the background trying to get the thing made. None of the honours mention him but he knows deep down he has made something to be very proud of. Well done Marky Mark - you've come a long way from the Funky Bunch.

Overall - I'll score this 8/10. Some scenes a little slow to boil, some 'patchy' dialogue in places but overall it's heart is in the right place.
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Why Are Boxing Movies Never Really About Boxing?!
zkonedog10 March 2017
For whatever reason, considering the low real-world current popularity of the sport, boxing fares quite well at the cinema (think Rocky, The Champ, & Million Dollar Baby to name a few). That tradition continues with "The Fighter", a film that delves into so many more themes than just the sweet science.

For a basic plot summary, "The Fighter" tells the dual stories of brothers Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dickie Ecklund (Christian Bale). Coming from a family of almost total dysfunction and seemingly headed for a life of manual labor, the boxing brothers each face their own inner demons as Mickey takes his "last shot" at pugilistic success.

What really makes this a spectacular movie is the incredible complexity of the characters. Nothing is black-and-white about the entire experience, with all the plots/characters providing ample opportunities for shades of grey (the sign of most truly great movies). Nothing is predictable whatsoever, with the character dynamics changing regularly as the situations dictate. From beginning to end, the intense emotional roller-coaster will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Of course, what makes those emotions really "pop" are the incredible acting performances. Bale nearly steals the entire show as the enigmatic Dickie, cementing himself as perhaps the greatest pure actor of the present day. Wahlberg also nails the emotionally-drained Ward as he tries to navigate the pathetic petty family drama. Finally, Amy Adams (playing Charlene, Mickey's girlfriend) shows her acting chops as the fulcrum point from which Mickey goes from "hanger- on" to "legitimate contender".

The directing is adept as well, considering that no scene or character is wasted. Every single frame and interaction is meaningful in the overall scheme of things.

Thus, I consider "The Fighter" to be one of the greatest sports films of all-time. Everything (from acting to plot to direction) is solid and no time is wasted in the hour and fifty minute runtime. I could have watched two MORE hours and not have been bored in the slightest.
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A pleasant surprise, with great performances all round
tomgillespie200222 February 2011
Long in the development pipeline, and long something of a labour of love for actor Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter arrives just before Awards season, depicting a often-told story about overcoming obstacles to reach your dream. Wahlberg, who takes centre stage as Irish-American welterweight boxer Mickey Ward, spent four years bulking himself up for the part and learning to fight like a professional fighter. You have to admire his dedication, as his performance and the film itself is surprisingly excellent. After all, this story has already been told in the form of Rocky, although that was told with a more fairytale edge. The Fighter is grounded in a very miserable reality, where poverty and crack-addiction is rife.

Trained by his former-professional boxer half-brother Dickie (Christian Bale), Mickey is going from fight to fight making little money and usually getting his arse handed to him. He is what is known in the boxing world as a 'stepping stone' - someone to knock out the way just before your big shot. Things aren't helped by the fact that Dickie is an unreliable crack-head, and his manager mother, is selfish and only sees what would be beneficial to her family, rather than Mickey's career. Mickey O'Keefe, a policeman and Mickey's co-trainer, believes him to be a formidable fighter, trying to do the right thing while his family keep messing things up. When Dickie is arrested and is jailed for a long stint, Mickey quits boxing and shacks up with feisty bartender Charlene (Amy Adams), much to his mother's and his seven sister's dismay. When an opportunity presents itself, Mickey must decide what is right and consider stepping back into the ring and fulfil his potential.

So far, so cliché, you may think. And you would be right to think that too, as the film does tick all the boxes. Yet it has never been done with so much dedication and heart, and this pours onto the screen for us to see. It's a film of (excuse the pun) knockout (sorry!) performances by a highly talented cast. The critics have raved about him, yet the Awards panels have failed to recognise Mark Wahlberg's restrained performance as the shy, quiet Mickey. He holds the film together as it's a film that needs a central character that you can truly root for, and Wahlberg nails it. Perhaps because it is a less showy performance than the other actors, but Wahlberg can stand tall after this, capturing the standard of acting that we have seen previously in Boogie Nights and The Yards. It is Christian Bale, however, that is scooping up the awards, and has received an Oscar nomination for his painful depiction of drug- addled Dickie Eklund. It is a fine showcase for possibly the finest actor around at the moment, and you can only sit back in awe at his complete dedication to his craft. He apparently stayed in character throughout shooting, and he lost a lot of weight to portray the decimation of Dickie's addiction. Of course, he's done this before in The Machinist, but here his acting overshadows the physical attributes.

The downside to the film is it's clichés, but I was so completely engrossed in the story and the characters that I just didn't care. It is difficult for the sports genre as a whole, as their is always something that has been done before. The better sports films of the last few years - Friday Night Lights, Million Dollar Baby, The Wrestler - also had to sacrifice originality for the sake of telling a good story, and it's the same here. Kudos, though, for director David O. Russell (who directed the fantastic Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees - both containing great Wahlberg performances) who takes an unfussy, no-nonsense approach. During the dramatic scenes, he simply points the camera and allows his actors to act, and the story to be told. He changes this, however, during the slightly disappointing boxing scenes, which are clearly influenced by Scorsese's Raging Bull, but lacking the magic and artistic flair of the 1980 classic.

Although it's never going to win the Best Picture Oscar, it is a worthy contender, much like it's protagonist. I hope Bale will received the award he so thoroughly deserves, and Wahlberg will realise he's not an action star, but a very good actor. A very pleasant surprise.
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"Bale & Leo are flawless, arguably the finest we've seen them!"
stephisthekingpin18 January 2011
Based on the True story of "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), the Massachusetts born professional boxer.

David O. Russell's "The Fighter" follows the story of a young man who grew up adoring his older half brother Dicky (Christian Bale) the hyperactive drug addicted professional boxer who once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard in '78. To say Micky has a dysfunctional family would be an enormous understatement, with an overhaul of nicotine addicted controlling females led by the mother of the family, Alice (Melissa Leo) who believes she is managing his career but is blindly a burden on his professional & social life.

Micky encounters a heavily mismatched opponent organised by his family which was intended to be a morale boost leaves the hero of the film battered & embarrassed of his loss. His Life begins to change for the better when he begins to date Charlene (Amy Adams) a local barmaid popular with the men, who slowly opens his eyes that the problem with his life has been the influence of his family.

After a potentially career ending incident involving his brother/mentor Dicky, our central character with the forceful help of Charlene avoids his family and begins to train seriously with a fresh team of supporting staff; his father (Jack McGee), long-time trainer played by the real life Mickey O'Keefe & a new manager Sal (Frank Renzulli).

An extremely well re-created documentary of the original HBO feature titled "High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell" follows Dicky's long-time drug addiction to crack cocaine takes place during the film and is moving to watch.

There's an enormous amount of pressure on any Boxing based drama in cinema. With legendary classics Rocky (1975), Raging Bull (1980) or more recently Million Dollar Baby (2004), The Wrestler (2008) any film of this genre is going to be viewed with this comparison. The Fighter does extremely well to live up to it's predecessors on the screen.

Bale & Leo are flawless, arguably the finest we've seen them! Ever since the commitment Bale made to The Machinist (2004) dropping an excruciating 63Lbs for the role and then gaining it all back within weeks for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman Begins (2005) he confirmed to audiences that he is a true character actor and is dedicated to his art. Wahlberg is steady, "The Fighter" is an appropriate fit for his style of acting, recently he has made some poor career decisions he has admitted to himself; Max Payne (2008), The Happening (2008). At times he reminds his audience what he's capable of with quality performances such as I Heart Huckabees (2004), which was his 2nd collaboration with Director David O. Russell and most notably Scorsese's Best Picture Winner The Departed (2006) for which he earned his Academy Award Nomination.

In summary The Fighter has a lot to offer a wide variety of viewers and is well worth the line up & ticket price. 4 out of 5 Stars
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