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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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He's got the warrior's code

  • Mar 23, 2011
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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 myself and it seems that the movies about any kind of sport tend to run through the same formula over and over again.  That being said, when I saw the trailer for David O. Russell's The Fighter I simply groaned at how generic it looked as I had flashbacks of Rocky as well as The Blind Side.  However, being a huge fan of Christian Bale once again I found myself suckered into asking for the film for my birthday.

As I began the film I only had to watch about 10 minutes in to realize that...this movie was different.  I found myself not being able to turn away, almost everything was interesting and captivating. 

If you're not familiar with the story simply put, it's about the rise of Micky Ward who was a boxer back in the mid eighties and his half brother Dicky Eckland; I"ll try to reveal as little as possible as most of the movie has to really be watched rather than read about.  The movie opens with Dicky (Bale) talking to a TV camera about his boxing comeback then introduces his "little" (Side note, whatever weight Bale lost for this role it looks like Wahlberg found) brother Micky (Wahlberg).  After a fairly long introduction of the two brothers walking down their city being praised by their peers.  You find out that Dicky is the pride of the town for defeating Sugar Ray Johnson in the 70's (get used to hearing it they only mention it about 20 bleeping times!), now a days though when Dicky isn't "training" Micky to be a great boxer he's usually found smoking crack at well the good ol' crackhouse.  To put it simply, Dicky trains Micky when he's not busy while their mother Alice (Melissa Leo, who I'm so glad one best supporting actress for this movie) manages the fights for Micky; neither one of them help him out much at first though. 

I won't reveal too much else, but it does include a story of redemption, love, the importance of family and simply courage.  While it may sound like the film is trying to include too much, it blends well and seems to take less of a focus on boxing and more of a focus on the characters.  I loved the idea as all of the characters in the movie were so interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic either way I loved them. 

Pro's:  After watching the making of featurette which showed the real Ward/Eklund family I must say that they were protrayed so well, even if all of their actions weren't exactly flattering. 
The two performances that really stood out were, as I've said, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo.   They seemed to actually be the real people they were protraying, which isn't an easy task as both Dicky and Alice were pretty vibrant characters.
The cinemetography was a unique one as during fights switched to actual classic HBO cameras, giving  much more gritty and realistic sequences.
It simply stays true with what it is, a strong drama about strong people, not just another boxing movie.
Oh right, I do have to include that the soundtrack was pretty great.

Cons:  As bad as this sounds there were several moments where I couldn't understand what people were saying due to some...strong Boston accents.
There were several scenes that I felt only exsisted in order to intensify the drama and it can come off as forcing itself on the audience.
The protrayal of Micky Ward at several moments was...well, just plain whiney and boring.  Neither of which I can really see Ward being, they both attempted to make him a strong person but at the same time much of his dialogue just sounded like he was complaining most of the time.
There were several cliches that I could really have done without

Final Verdict: A-
Having seen both The King's Speech and now The Fighter I am a bit surprised that The King won best picture.  This movie was strong, interesting, fun, funny and just plain charming.  Better yet, it actually made me a bit more interested in boxing, I'm not sure if that's what it was trying to do but still.   I would say buy this film as it's one of those dramas that you can watch more than once.

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March 23, 2011
Really awesome review, Ian!  Thanks for reviewing, but not spoiling! ;)  By the way, I think you're equipped to answer this question :)
March 23, 2011
Thank you very much
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 . 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 …
review by . March 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The Fighter Will Keep You Interested, Just Like Rocky Did.
It is not too often lately that my wife and I  get a chance to see a movie, so when this came to our local theater we decided to take the night off from school work and just plain work. So, if you liked the movie Rocky then you will love this true story, The Fighter is rated "R" and lasts for just a shade under two hours. This movie starring Mark Wahlberg who portrays Micky Ward, who's rise to stardom mimics the Rocky movies a little bit. Micky goes through all of the trials and …
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Ian ()
Ranked #383
My name is Ian, and interesting would not really be a word to describe me. I'm an aspiring writer with a huge passion for movies and video games, some of which consume much of my time. Sadly that's … more
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About this movie


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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