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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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Fights to the end, never quite gets the knock-out, but nevertheless packs some kind of punch.

  • Apr 16, 2011
*** 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 been talking about, the movie that has gone on to snag and get nominated for some damn good awards, "The Fighter".

The worst I can really say for "The Fighter" is that it's not the emotional knock-out that most people seem to think it is. It's one of those "Oscar Bait" type films, and it works, just not tremendously well. However, I did like how this movie felt, and O. Russell did a genuinely good job at depicting the lives of those in a just-barely mediocre community. It's good to see O. Russell is back and making good movies yet again, and while this is indeed just another film about boxing, it's none the less another good one.

Based on a true story, as the trailers make apparent. The studios want us to know this so that we'll go see this bastard. I don't mind the gimmick, as long as it doesn't transfer into the actual movie with distracting and annoying clichés and the like. Here, its direction, acting, and vision that makes this film work. I don't find the story of real-life boxer Micky Ward particularly fascinating, but I do like how O. Russell re-tells the whole emotionally-bloody affair.

There's Micky, and then there's Dicky. Half-brothers, of course, Dicky being the eldest of the two. Mickey is an aspiring boxer who has been trained by his older kin for as long as he can remember. They often go to the gym to practice boxing, with Dicky being Mickey's personal trainer. This routine goes well, but Mickey is not successful as a fighter. He simply lacks the necessary skill and bite to win big; and he's known as a disgrace to the area in which he lives. Dicky, on the other hand, is an aimless crack addict who will willingly help his kin, but often gets distracted by his life-style at the "crack house". As you can expect, the film documents the rise, fall, and rebirth of Mickey's boxing life; and it does it with a significantly good amount of flare.

Director David O. Russell isn't the only man behind the magic of "The Fighter". In fact, the actors bring this film to goodness. Mark Wahberg, who isn't exactly my favorite actor, does some of his absolute best work here, and Christian Bale has once again lost a lot of weight for a role, and once again, he plays it well. I also enjoyed Amy Adam's performance, which is something "out-of-this-world" for the actress. And then there's Melissa Leo as the near-psychotic mother of Mickey Ward. Each of the four actors I have listed do exceptionally well in their portrayals of their characters. Bale deserves awards for his work; and so do Adams and Leo; but I don't know about Wahlberg. He's good, but alas, not good enough to trigger a proper emotional response out of this hard-to-please bastard. But he was at least entertaining, and that's good enough for me.

It's hard for me to love this movie, but it's also hard for me not to enjoy it. I enjoyed what O. Russell was trying to do here, and he does way more than half of what he intended, but there is alas, something missing from this film. The fight scenes don't feel powerful of significant enough, and neither does the drama. I like "The Fighter", I like how it presents itself, and I liked how it felt; but I wish I had felt exactly what O. Russell wanted me to feel upon hearing this story be told. I'm not criticizing David O. Russell or his direction; in fact, this is an improvement over "Huckabees". But I do not consider O. Russell a great director, and perhaps that is why he wasn't quite able to make a great film out of "The Fighter". But good is satisfying enough for me.

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April 17, 2011
For me, this was one of those movies that had a formula and afforded little surprises and yet the script and the acting just carried it way above expectations. Rusell also did a good job in its direction. Nice review!
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 clichés. 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 . 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 …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … 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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