The Fighter

Finally getting of the ground after waiting years for financing David O Russell brings the story of boxer ‘Irish’ Micky Ward to the big screen. Famously Micky’s brother Dicky, also a boxer and trainer, went 10 rounds with Sugar Ray Leonard and knocked him down to put their home town of Lowell on the map. A true story we join Dicky, a sure Oscar performance from Bale, as he is interviewed by a camera crew for a supposed documentary on his comeback, although as the film progresses we learn that all is not as it seems. Despite being a film about boxing most of the action takes place outside the ring as that’s where the true conflict is in this film, when you meet the brother’s mother, another stunning turn from Melissa Leo, and the collective harpies that are her vicious metal haired daughters you’ll soon see why one turned to drugs and they both started punching things. It’s in these tragically real characters that the essence of the film lays, the hope, the despair, the humour and hopefully the redemption as the story progresses to the abrupt, and slightly rushed, ending. Although a story that’s been told time and time again Russell has managed to bring something relatively new to the genre. The only down side is that Bale’s performance spends most of the film threatening to out shadow everything else, with his gaunt face, wide eyed stare and flailing muppet arms he is at times unrecognizable, in fact as the credits roll we get to see some footage of the real Dicky and its quite eerie. Walhberg, who apparently wanted this so much he stayed in shape for four years while waiting for it to get made, is the weak link in the cast, he may look the part but his acting is nothing short of wooden. But with surprising direction from Russell who, has come along way since ‘I Heart Huckabees’, and seems to be following in the footsteps of the great Michael Mann giving the film a real dirt under your finger nail feels. The title has various meanings with almost everyone in the film fighting something whether its opponents, drugs, family, inner demons or simply the grind of everyday life and though the film has an uplifting outcome it is at times a hard but powerful watch.  

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