Based on a true story, `The Fighter' is the story of two brothers, Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Bale) who are boxing heroes around their home town of Lowell in the USA.
Dicky is renowned for his past boxing career, but has fallen on hard times after becoming addicted to crack. Micky is his younger brother who wishes to emulate and surpass Dicky's success and make a name for himself and his family. Dicky's addiction overshadows his brothers chances of getting respected fights and when he ends up in prison it gives Micky the opportunity get a new support team and start to turn things around. But it is when Dicky finally gets clean, gets released from prison, makes amends with Micky and the family and rejoins his brothers team, that everything really comes together and things take a final upward spiral.
This film has excellent performances from all involved and Bale and Wahlberg are exceptional as the main characters. Micky's girlfriend Charlene is a stabilising influence in his life and the actress who plays her is also really good. This film has a superb soundtrack with tracks by The Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Whitesnake and way more besides, it really lifts certain scenes in the film.
The fight scenes are well choreographed and make for a good mixture of tension and excitement and the director manages to make everything look authentic.
It is hard to fully warm to some of the characters, but you always appreciate where they are coming from and the influence and impact they have in each others lives. This is a great story of perseverance and overcoming adversity to reach your dreams and for this alone it is quite inspiring. I admit I have seen better bio-pics of this type, but this is perfectly watchable and makes for just under 2 hours entertaining viewing. This well worth checking out at some point.
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In a televised boxing match (18 July 1978) – a young white kid from the city of Lowell in Massachusetts called Dick 'Dicky' Ekland (Christian Bale) supposedly knocked down the welterweight black champion – the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard in the 9th round. And for 15 years since Dickey has been a local hero.
Now a 1993 HBO film crew are following him and his younger half-brother Michael 'Micky' Ward (Mark Wahlberg) around the streets of Lowell – where friends, neighbours and local businesses cheer for Dicky again (who at the age of 40 is training for a comeback). So as the boys shadow spar and lark about to cheering crowds while the cameras roll – we meet the Ekland/Ward family. There’s Mum and Manager Alice (an award winning turn by Melissa Leo), chubby but dedicated father George (the great Jack McGee) and their troop of six bullish daughters (through various marriages). These women have big haircuts, big mouths and ashtrays that are always overflowing.
But tricky Dicky has a worse habit – regularly falling into a dumpster at the back of a crack cocaine den he frequents. And despite promises when his family comes to haul him out of there and back into the gym to continue training – he seems to be on a one-way ride to personal and emotional oblivion – spouting past glories that are in themselves disputed (Sugar Ray tripped and wasn’t knocked down).
One evening as his sisters, Dad and brother Dicky get drunk and swap insults in a crowded low-class bar – Micky (Mark Wahlberg) notices Charlene behind the counter – a world weary young woman who went to college and won’t take crap from the cheapskates eyeing up her short skirt and tight teeshirt (brilliant part for Amy McAdams). After a rocky start – they’re going out to French Movies neither understands - and a force of good finally enters the young boxer’s life.
But Micky’s family are hostile to the outsider woman they see as a threat to their golden boy (Manager Mom especially) – so Charlene’s opinion let alone presence is not welcome. But Micky soon sees that Charlene has a point – especially when his Mom/Brother’s 'crazy' and their need for money - pushes him into a boxing match with a man 20 pounds heavier and Micky gets pulverized. After the bruising Micky’s approached by a big-time trainer and is advised that he needs to give his obvious heart and talent a fighting chance. But this is only on the proviso that it excludes his mouthy Mum and his untrustworthy junkie brother. Charlene agrees - but Micky is conflicted by family ties that are strong/binding.
Then drugged-up Dicky gets into another bout with the cops – they break Micky’s hand on a car in a scuffle – Dicky gets jail-time – and it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Micky decides to go with that advice and employs a local trainer - excluding his troublesome family. Dickey endures crippling withdrawal inside prison - but trains hard over a year to recover. But there is further humiliation and setback as he watches the HBO documentary with his inmates in the TV common room. The program turns out not to be a celebration - but an expose of a crack addict and a has-been – a damning graphic indictment of his grotty life on the streets of Lowell.
David O. Russell’s "The Fighter" is a fabulous movie – peopled with heart, life observations and ballsy performances that amaze and deserved the praise heaped on them. But while Christian Bale and Melissa Leo are sensationally good – it’s Wahlberg’s centred determined fighter that gives the movie its beating heart. This is a man who must win – not just for himself and his family – but for all the broken bones and bloodied noses and internal wounds and all the crap the business has thrown at him down through the hard years. By the time he wins himself to the big fight in London (a shot at the title) – you’re cheering like you’re ringside and you’re life depends on it.
The BLU RAY picture is really great (defaulted to 2.35:1 Aspect ratio) – and shockingly clean given the gritty nature of the fights and the indoor house family feuds. The soundtrack adds muscle (literally) to each punch and body blow (5.1 DTS-HD Audio) and there are fantastic extras that show the extraordinary commitment of Wahlberg and Bale to their parts (Wahlberg effectively trained for two years and actually does the boxing for real).
"The Fighter" is "Raging Bull" meets "Rocky" with knobs on. Yet reputedly the real Ekland family (the two brothers are in the credits) hated their portrayal and walked out of early showings. Right there you know the truth hurts – and with that – you’re in the presence of greatness.
A total T.K.O. and how…
The Fighter is directed by David O. Russell and collectively written by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. Music is by Michael Brook and cinematographer for the film is Hoyte van Hoytema. Film is based on the true life tale of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward (Wahlberg), who had to battle thru family strife to give himself a chance of achieving something in the sport.
The synopsis is simple because the film is simple, but sometimes with simplicity comes great things. Such is the case with The Fighter, a boxing film that is that rare old animal of being a cliché riddled sports film: yet one that's totally raw and uplifting into the bargain. The film had a long gestation period, big names such as Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Darren Aronofsky were attached at one point, Scorsese, too, was in the frame to helm at one point, but still Wahlberg couldn't get his dream project off the ground. But all's well that ends well, for as it turned out, Russell, his director on I ' Huckabees & Three Kings, stepped into the ring and with Bale now on board too, the elements were in place for a Raging Bull/Rocky of this millennium. Is The Fighter worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Marty & Sly's pugilistic punchers? Hell yes it is, in fact it carries the gritty tone akin to the former and the feel good factor of the latter.
That Russell has managed to rise above the pitfalls of sports movie formula is an impressive achievement, more so given that this is treading the well worm path of rags-to-riches and triumph over adversity, but he is helped immeasurably by the performances of the principals in the cast. Wahlberg is the heart of the picture, physically he fits the bill anyway, but he has to play conflicted emotion to perfection, as Micky is pulled from pillar to post by all around him, to truly make Ward work. And he does. Bale, in the beginning, you feel is going to lay out a method turn reliant on another one of his punishing physical changes. Yet as the elder Ward brother-a fallen sportsman himself-now a crack addicted dope under the impression he's making a comeback-Bale manages to elicit empathy, sympathy and a request for us to root him out of his rut: quite a feat given the character's obvious fallibility's as kin. Adams as "the girlfriend" is spunky, brassy and tough as old boots, it's great to see her get a role so stripped down and raw it lets her showcase her dramatic talents. Rounding out the four pronged propeller of quality thesping is Leo as mother Alice. Brilliantly boisterous, angry and a maternal maelstrom of ignorant parenting, in another's hands this could have been caricature mundanity.
Some missteps exist, such as relegating Adams to the back ground in the last quarter, and for sure the final fight, although well edited and potent, is far too short and rushed to 100% capitalise on the swell of support built up for Micky up to that point. But they are minor gripes, itches easily scratched at when judging the film as a whole. For this is an uplifter for our times; a sports movie that comfortably sits up at the top with the best of them. Bravo. 9.5/10
on 24 February 2011
There have been plenty of movies about professional boxing, both biographical and fictional. The Fighter is a very worthwhile addition to that list.
It is based on the life of Micky Ward(Mark Wahlberg), a boxer from Massachusetts. He is a gutsy fighter with some potential but fears he may have missed his chance at the big time. He is trained by his half-brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), who still tries to live off the fame of knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard over ten years before. His mother (Melissa Leo) manages Ward rather poorly; signing him for fights he cannot win. She is a larger than life figure who treats Eklund as her favourite son. She ignores that Eklund is a drug addict and this is reducing Ward's chance of success. Eventually Eklund's lifestyle causes him to end up in jail.
However Ward, an easygoing man, is slow to rock the boat until he starts going out with a local barmaid (Amy Adams). She sees both his potential and the way he is being badly treated by his family. With her support he confronts them and tells them he is getting a new manager. Suffice it to say his mother does not take this too well.
The rest of the movie charts Ward's increasing success and what happens when Eklund is released from prison.
The performances are generally excellent. Christian Bale has rightly received plaudits for playing Eklund. A youtube search shows that his portrayal of him as a rather annoying non-stop talker is pretty accurate! Wahlberg is highly impressive in the less flashy role of Ward. He accurately portrays his frustration at the way his career is fading as well as his love for his family members who are causing that to happen. I thought Melissa Leo played the mother as an almost cartoonish character and this grated slightly with me. If she is as she comes across in the film in real life she must be impossible to live with! Her brood of daughters are similarly portrayed as being intimidating to say the least.
The boxing scenes are shown as if they are appearing on a TV screen and I found this, as well as the excellent fight choreography, made the scenes very authentic
The Fighter is the true story of Micky Ward (Played by Mark Wahlberg - Shooter) a Massachusetts raised boxer who has spent his entire life in the shadow of his older half-brother - Dicky Eklund (played by Christian Bale - The Machinist) who once went toe-to-toe with 'Sugar' Ray Leonard and even knocked him down - probably. Micky is managed and trained by his overbearing Mother and now crack-addicted brother and begins to think that it isn't his capacity as a boxer that is holding him back, it's having to carry his family around. When Micky meets Charlene (Amy Adams) she gives him the courage & inspiration to stride out on his own and try for the welterweight title.
Draped in a true story, the Fighter is an epic 'against-the-odds' story of a working class hero. The Fighter is well acted, with both of the protagonists going through some pretty extreme physical regimes to play the welterweight boxer and crack-addict former boxer, it's all very convincing but given that Wahlberg is from a working-class Massachusetts family, it's not much of a stretch for him as he fits the role perfectly. More impressive is Bale's dedication to the role of Dicky, slimming down massively and learning Micky's distinctive Boston-drawl to play a very touching role of a man fallen from glory who's very existence is defined by a single moment in his past "I knocked down Sugar-Ray dontcha know?". The supporting cast are all very capable, especially Micky's mother who doubles up as his manager and his venomous gaggle of gossip sisters.
Whilst almost all boxing movies are compared to a Rocky this has a pretty minimal amount of boxing in it and really can't be. The final fight will have you on the edge of your seat as you will Micky to win the title, but by-and-large, the main dynamic of the film is Micky struggling with his brother whom he can't be without, his mother and his love-life. It's an honestly touching story and I ended up really feeling for the characters - it's that well directed by David O. Russell. The soundtrack is fantastic as well. So it's a great film and has won or been nominated for a slew of industry awards - the majority of which are Best Supporting Actor for Bale's performance of Dicky - this has to be to the chagrin of Wahlberg who ushered this from a script all the way to this cinematic epic.
on 13 August 2013
Its OK....lots of inaccuracies, especially the weight given to the "World Title Fight" (please!) at the end, and plenty of poetic license. Fight scenes generally laughable but that seems to be par for boxing films.
Mickey Ward's story is worth telling, seems odd they left out the chapter(s) that he is best remembered for, i.e. the Gatti trilogy...those fights are a story in their own right....oh well.
The film did make me google the documentary "High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell" that features his brother and is referenced in the film - and is worth watching.
on 23 February 2015
Micky is a talented boxer but he lives in the shadow of his older brother Dicky who was a well-known boxer but now lives from memories while still considering himself an amazing boxer.
Micky is a guy who wants to succeed as a boxer and although he trains hard his family drags him down and he is on the verge of letting go of his dream of becoming a boxing champion. But his girlfriend manages to motivate him to keep going and when Dicky is arrested and goes to prison Micky decides to separate himself from the family and follow his dream.
In conclusion: an inspiring film which makes you think about how the people you love and respect can help you to follow your dreams.
David O Russell cemented his reputation as one of Hollywood's most promising and dynamic directors (and 'manager' of actors) with his 2010 real-life tale of Lowell, Massachusetts boxing brothers Micky and Dicky (you can't legislate for parents, I guess) Ward. Russell's film-making versatility is to be much admired, potentially making him (for me) a natural successor to Martin Scorsese, whose Raging Bull is (perhaps) the natural comparator for any 'boxing movie'. And, whilst The Fighter does not quite match the visual innovation of Scorsese's film, it comes pretty close in terms of viewer engagement and the quality of the acting on show, as well as presenting a more expansive subject matter palette, taking in drug addiction (Dicky was a crack addict) and, most centrally, family loyalty.
Acting-wise Christian Bale is, of course, superb in his depiction of the 'out-of-control' addict, Dicky - cocky, but immature and unreliable - and 'answerable' only to his mother (and fellow Oscar winner), arch-manipulator Melissa Leo's Alice. Mark Wahlberg as the 'exploited' Micky and love-interest, Amy Adams' college underachiever, Charlene, are also impressive, as are a number of character performances, including those delivered by Jack McGee as Alice's 'put-upon' other half, George, and (remarkably) that of grizzled cop and boxing trainer, Mickey O'Keefe (playing his real-life self). Russell also does a great job setting up this close-knit (almost 'incestuous') working-class community, where the 'matriarch' rules with a rod of iron and family loyalty takes precedence over all else. The Fighter has many memorable sequences - frequently involving Alice and her extended family (a strong case for contraception, if ever there was one) baiting Charlene, as the latter begins to exert influence over Micky, and that where Dicky comes face to face with reality as (ensconced in prison) the 'hero' witnesses a TV documentary (being shot as part of Russell's narrative) focusing on his 'crack exploits'.
Mention should also be made of Hoyte van Hoytema's cinematography which is dynamic, rapidly cut and often innovative, as well as the film's impressively eclectic soundtrack (another comparator between Russell and Scorsese) which features the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Traffic, Aerosmith and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. My only minor criticism of Russell's film is that he chose to end the brothers' story (a true one, admittedly) rather conventionally, but, that said, The Fighter remains one of the more impressive films to emerge from Hollywood in recent years.
on 12 July 2014
I bought “The Fighter” after had seen the trailer for it. Sports related films are something I would normally avoid, but this one looked like it was worth a look.
And I am so glad I got it. Superb performances from the cast it has been nominated for and won awards at various award ceremonies (at the Academy Awards, Best Supporting Actor went to Christian Bale and Best Supporting Actress went to Melissa Leo) but the whole cast excel. The film is shot mostly in the city of Lowell where the film is set and is done with documentary realism – this is not an overly polished sickly sweet Hollywood film, and all the better for it. The music throughout has been chosen very well with some great sounding tracks.
The fight scenes looked very convincing (apparently no stunt doubles were used), as did the training, the real fighter’s trainer was in the film having never acted before, and, like all of the cast did a great job.
I would say that the Extra Features on the DVD are well worth a look.
This is not just a film for boxing fans, it would appeal to many people on many levels.
I feel that I have watched something more than a bit special in “The Fighter”.
(Mark Wahlberg has said that a sequel is in the works.)
With the DVD you get:
The main feature.
Commentary with director David o Russell
The Warrior’s Code: Filming The Fighter (28 mins)
Keeping The Faith (8 mins)
Deleted Scenes (20 mins
Deleted Scenes with Commentary (7 mins)
Some of the music in the film comes from The Heavy whose song How You Like Me Now? is played in the open scene and is a really good track to start the film. But there is also music from Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many others.
on 21 May 2012
Two films about brother fighters in a week! What has become of the world! Whilst one was a fun, but silly (Warrior), the other would prove far grittier and real (The Fighter). Starring Mark Wahlberg as Micky Ward, `The Fighter' is based on the true story of how a down on his luck boxer became world champion. The film is much more than this, as it is also about how families can makes you, but can also break you.
On the surface, the story seems pretty bread and butter for the sports genre - a plucky underdog rising to glory. It is the surroundings that Micky finds himself in that makes the film stand out. Christian Bale was worthy of his Best Supporting Actor Oscar as the drug addicted Dicky, he plays a great Yang to Wahlberg's quieter Ying. For Bale's performance to have worked, the film needed Wahlberg's stoic performance. There is a grimness that smacks of reality in the film and whilst most of the cast pull it off, Amy Adams is a noticeable exception. She seems unable to produce the working class grit that makes the rest of the cast believable.
The flaws with the film do not end there, for all its realism, it still feels like yet another boxing chump makes champ story. Director David O Russell is good at the drama aspects of the film, but he cannot lift it above `Rocky' with a PhD. He is also unable to make the fights themselves exciting enough. Wahlberg, and to a lesser extent Bale, has worked out hard for the film, it is a shame that most of this is lost in the edit. Despite the boxing itself being a little underwhelming, `The Fighter' is a great family drama worth watching for Bale's performance alone.
Another BluRay that is slightly undone by a gritty style of direction. The grainy nature of the film means that the format is not a must. In terms of extras the footage of the real Micky and Dicky is great; you can see how the actors based their performances.