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The Fighter

David O. Russell's 2010 film chronicling the rise of an up and coming boxer and his drug addict ex-boxer brother.

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The Fighter

  • Jan 12, 2011
Recently it seems like a lot of movies are moving Northeast. The cities here seem to have split personalities from hoity-toity, ivy league elitism to gritty drug filled cesspools. Seeing this movie in Boston added a little something special to the screening. Boston often gets depicted as a tough place to live with a lot of characters who tend to be rough around the edges. The Boston accent is one of the most notorious out there and often gets butchered as actors try to pick up the nuances of Boston, but really just turn into a caricature of the city. The accent even trips up people who previously lived here, looking at you Affleck. It has been tough for Boston to shed this image even though Lowell, where the story takes place, is actually 30 miles north of Boston.

Cut to inside the theater where a man in his 60s is smoking the same unfiltered camels he has clearly been smoking for the past 40 years. A fight almost breaks out on the left side of the auditorium over the incident. Sorry Menino, the caricature is hear to stay, time to embrace it. That is exactly what director David Russell does with The Fighter, he allows the city of Lowell to breathe and really come into its own. Whether it's them walking down the street, talking with everyone they pass, or its the training they do in preparation for the fight. Lowell is heavily featured in this movie, for better or worse.

In fact one of the most subtle performances in the movie comes from the man who has tried to get this movie made for four years. Mark Wahlberg (here to be known as Marky Mark) stars and produces in this movie about the Irish boxer Mickey Ward looking to keep his career going as long as possible. He trained everyday for four years in preparation for this film to look and understand the part. He also shopped the film around to as many people as possible including Martin Scorsese. It wasn't until Russell came along, whom he previously worked with on Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees that all his efforts came to fruition. For all the effort Marky Mark puts into his film he chooses to stand aside as the lead character and let his co-stars do the heavy hitting.  It is to his credit as his understated performance really helps the movie excel.

The hardest hitting performance in the movie is hands down Christina Bale as Mickey's half-brother and trainer Dickie. Just as Dickie stole the spotlight off Mickey in the family, Bale steals it away from Marky Mark. He is infectious, loyal and tragic all rolled into one as Dickie is cursed with addictions to both the lime light and crack that nearly destroy him. In his past life he was able to knock down Sugar Ray Leonard and it seems to be in that life that Dickie wants to live, and almost everyone is willing to cater to that. There is no one out there in Hollywood who would be better suited to take on this character. His method tendencies, which have gotten him in trouble in the past is what makes him perfect for this role in what is sure to finally get him a Oscar Nomination, and most likely be the heavy favorite to win among the Academy. Seriously how has Bale never even been nominated for the award?

Although it may be tough to see past Christian Bale, Melissa Leo also pulls out a fantastic performance as the mother of the boxing duo. She is trying to manage Mickey's career but it is never clear whose interests she really has at heart. It would be silly to try to cast her singularly as the monstrous mother as she is so much more than that. She is strong and determined to make sure the family stays together and has an army of daughters to ensure she achieves her goal at whatever expense. Opposing his mother is Amy Adams as the underachieving girlfriend, she proves her versatility as an actor branching out from her typical sweet demeanor. In this movie she shines as a character hardened by strife and the only one strong enough to pull Mickey away from the talons of his mother.

It is the relationships in Mickey's life that drives the heart of the movie. All the characters seem to know what is best as they battle over Mickey's soul. Marky Mark understands the talent he has surrounded himself with and it is to his credit that he decides to step back and allow the chemistry of the project to take over.

Inside the ring the cinematography differs from other boxing movie. In Rocky, for example, every hit seems to be a haymaker and for the most part that is what the audience wants to see, but not how a real boxing match takes place. To capture the feel of the fights Russell chose to use Beta Cameras, which is what would have been used to capture the fights in the early nineties. They also received help from the HBO film crews whose years of experience around the ring helped the fight scenes feel more plausible than previous boxing movies.

Boxing as a sport seems to be headed to the wayside with the emergence of mixed martial arts. Leaving most of us to only admire times and stories gone by. Wahlberg proves that he cares about this project and his passion is projected off the screen to the viewers. A-

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January 13, 2011
Great review! For some reason I keep on smiling everytime I see "marky Mark"....nice touch! I liked this movie quite a bit; I was amazed by Bale's character and he may have ran away with the show. Thanks!
More The Fighter (2010 film) reviews
review by . December 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A Fight To Win In Life and in The Boxing Ring!
   Sports dramas that channel an inspiring ‘underdog’ story. It is pretty cliché nowadays in the halls of filmmaking. Well, director David O. Russell’s “The Fighter” stems from cliché but then again, sometimes real life is all about cliché. It centers on the real-life story of Irish boxer Micky Ward and his half-brother Dickie Eklund. This film is the third collaboration between Russell and Wahlberg, the first two being “Three Kings” …
review by . March 23, 2011
Let's just start off by saying I hate sports movies, there I said it.  I didn't cry when at the end of Rudy, I didn't cheer at the end of Rocky and I didn't bother watching Friday Night Lights or Any Given Sunday.  To me, they're all the same in some way or another whether true or not, an over dramatic story about how someone with nothing rises up through adversity and blah, blah, blah.  It's mostly due to the fact that I'm not much of a sports fan …
review by . January 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Around the end of the year one of the things that typically happens is you get a lot of good... but boring movies.  The end of 2010 wasn't like this really.  Most of the movies driving for the Oscar actually entertained.  Usually far too many get themselves far too concerned with being artistic and intellectual.  Which is actually well and good, but they always miss the mark in terms of entertainment.  The Fighter does another turn around by being a film that isn't …
review by . March 27, 2011
Christian Bale steals the show and earns his Oscar.
The Fighter is a bio-pic about two brothers Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale).   Micky is a club fighter who's career is marred by being in a tough weight class, poor management and a lack of drive, Dicky is a washed out former contender who's biggest claim to fame was knocking down "Sugar" Ray Leonard. The film follows Micky as he rises through the boxing ranks and Dicky's crash and burn (he has a serious crack addiction and it affects …
review by . February 05, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Mark Wahlberg stars as Micky "Irish" Ward, a young man seemingly going no where in Lowell, MA. but with a dream of becoming the next boxing welterweight champion of the world.    He's managed by his mother and his brother. Christian Bale plays Micky's brother. In the film Bale has a drug habit and constantly lets his brother down, not showing up for fights and scheduling fights with fighters who are inappropriate for Micky. Eventually, Bale is arrested and sent to jail.    Du …
review by . January 01, 2011
THE FIGHTER may be based on a true story, but that doesn't mean that much of the skeleton of its plot doesn't feel like a rehash of Hollywood clichĂ©s. Struggling blue-collar guy from a dysfunctional family gains a shot, late in life, at boxing glory. Various obstacles get in his way, but with the love of a good woman and some unconventional training & methods…he gets his shot at the title. It's the kind of plot that would not normally get my blood pumping in anticipation.     But …
review by . April 16, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     David O. Russell hasn't made a good film since "Three Kings", which isn't saying too much considering there was only one other film between that one and "The Fighter", and it was called "I Heart Huckabees". I was not pleased with that film, and I didn't think it functioned well enough to be a true "David O. Russell film". Now here is what I would call a "David O. Russell film", and I say that with the utmost respect. Here it is, the film that everyone has …
review by . January 22, 2011
This was an absolutely wonderful film. I was absolutely floored by it even though I saw it with two people who were less than thrilled to be there. The performances were top-notch and this would be on my Best Movies I Saw in 2010 list if I didn't see this in 2011. Like The King's Speech, this is the perfect Oscar formula and that's sure to pay off come awards time. First of all, the Academy has often had a thing for uplifting dramas (whether or not they pertain to sports) and secondly, …
review by . December 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
As is the case with many inspirational sports movies, “The Fighter” uses physical competition as a metaphor for emotional competition. It’s based on the true story of Lowell, Massachusetts boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, who went pro in 1985, went on hiatus after losing four consecutive fights in 1990, and then made a comeback that lasted from 1997 until his retirement in 2003. His final match was a trilogy of fights with Arturo Gatti, but all events in the film lead up to …
review by . December 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Now that's what I call a fight!
THE FIGHTER   Written by Eric Johnson, Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy   Directed by David O. Russell   Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo       Before a boxer sets foot in any ring, he most likely has a plan of attack in place.  If he is serious about what he does, he has studied his opponent; he knows his strategies, his weaknesses.  A great boxer is in control of the game even when it seems like he might …
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The Fighter
is an upcoming film directed by David O. Russell and executive produced by Darren Aronofsky, starring Mark Wahlberg. The film centers on the life of professional boxer "Irish" Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his older brother Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale). Amy Adams has also been confirmed as a love interest of Ward. The film is set to be released worldwide in theaters on December 10, 2010. The film is Russell and Wahlberg's third film collaboration, following Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees.
Darren Aronofsky was previously attached to direct before David O. Russell. Both Matt Damon and Brad Pitt were also once attached to play Dick Eklund before the role went to Christian Bale.  Bale has reportedly been training for the role. About the film, he said, "It’s a true story of two incredibly gifted boxers who were half brothers. The one, Dicky Ecklund, who fought Sugar Ray Leonard at a very young age, when he was twenty-one, was an incredible natural talent. He lived a very hard life. Then he came to train his brother, Irish Mickey Ward, to the world title." Wahlberg also trained for two years for the role of Mickey Ward. A trailer was released on September 15, 2010.
Filming began in July 2009 in Lowell, Massachusetts and was completed by September. Filming continued at Paramount in April 2010 for final additional scenes.
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Director: David O. Russell
Genre: Drama, Sport
Release Date: Dec. 10, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Paul Attanasio
Runtime: 115 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures Corp.
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