The Fighter (DVD)

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Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale Deliver in The Fighter

Dec 26, 2010 (Updated Jun 3, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Warburg and Bale.  Well done, entertaining movie.

Cons:None for me.

The Bottom Line: The Fighter is a well done entertaining movie with a wonderful cast.  It definitely deserves to be seen.


I don't like boxing at all, but I have seen a few movies dealing with boxing.  I have been interested in seeing The Fighter since I first saw the previews.

Boxer Dickie Eklund is well known around his hometown of Lowell Massachusetts, mostly from when he fought Sugar Ray Leonard.  Dickie hasn't had much success since then, though he trains his younger brother Micky Ward.  Their mother, Alice, serves as Micky's manager, though she clearly gives preferential treatment to Dickie.  She somehow overlooks the fact that Dickie has a drug problem until he is arrested and sent to jail.  After that happens, Micky, with the support of his girlfriend Charlene, gets a new manager and trains with someone else.  That causes problems in the family since they believe he is being disloyal that only get worse when Dickie is released after spending months in jail.

The Fighter is based on the real lives of Micky Ward and Dickie Eklund.  Since I don't watch boxing or know anything about it, I didn't know anything about either man.  I don't know how accurate the things in the movie are, though I do have a feeling that some things have been changed in some way for the movie.

When The Fighter begins, Dickie's life is already very messed up.  He still talks about his fight with Sugar Ray Leonard even though many years have passed and he hasn't managed to do much else with his boxing.  He is talking about making a comeback even while he is supposed to be training Micky.  A film crew is following Dickie around for a documentary about drugs, but he tells everyone they are filming his comeback.  He even seems to believe that himself most of the time.  Dickie's issues are a huge part of what happens in the movie, even when he is in prison.  Some of the things connected to Dickie aren't pleasant and can be difficult to watch at times.  Most of what happens is predictable, though a few small surprises turn up every so often.

Boxing plays a very big part in The Fighter.  Dickie found some success as a boxer earlier in life, so it isn't surprising that his only brother would attempt to follow in that path.  Based on what is shared in the movie, it doesn't seem like Dickie did anything else in boxing after his one fight with Sugar Ray Leonard.  He claims he is staging a comeback, but he doesn't actually do anything to back that up.  He barely shows up to train Micky.  Just about all the boxing that is actually shown in the movie involves Micky.  Dickie is mostly just seen sparring with Micky a few times.  Bits of some of Micky's fights are shown without an entire fight being shown.  Much of the violence is from the boxing matches, though some turns up in a couple of other scenes.  Charlene even gets into with Micky's sisters at one point.  The violence isn't overly gory, though it probably is a bit graphic for some people.  The violence, along with the liberal use of the word that rhymes with luck earn the movie an R rating.  This is not a child friendly movie in any way.

In addition to boxing, issues within Dickie and Micky's family play a big part in what is going on in The Fighter.  Dickie is the favored child of Alice and the favorite brother of the seven sisters.  Alice is always thinking about Dickie at the expense of Micky, though she claims that she is looking out for Micky.  She uses guilt to control her family.  She keeps saying that Micky can't do anything without Dickie.  It is hard to believe that the family truly cares about Micky because of the way they keep acting.  When Micky starts speaking up, with the support of Charlene, his mother and sisters flip out and that leads to things being strained between Micky and his family.  The family is a bit of a mess and clearly has issues.  Some of what goes on within the family is a bit like a soap opera.  

Micky and Dickie have a trouble relationship in The Fighter, mostly because of the problems that Dickie has.  Micky is trying to do things differently.  While he is clearly frustrated with his brother, Micky still cares about Dickie.  Micky is conflicted about his family at times.  Mark Wahlberg does a really good job with the part.  He spent years training to play Micky while waiting for the movie to be made.  Charlene and Micky start dating during the time covered by the movie.  She works in a bar and doesn't have a problem speaking her mind.  She is supportive of Micky, though she doesn't get along with his family.  Amy Adams is wonderful in the part.  Charlene is very different from every other part I've seen her play.

Dickie is a walking disaster when the movie begins.  He seems to be high most of the time and he frequently is late.  He is living in his own little world where he can relive his former glory.  Dickie does end up going through a lot over the course of the movie.  Christian Bale is amazing in the part.  He lost a lot of weight to play the part.  While I do think that is a believable look for someone hooked on drugs like Dickie was, it isn't a good look for Bale.  I didn't recognize him when I first saw the trailers for the movie.  He has a bit of a freaky, creepy look going on for most of the movie.  I think Dickie's weight fluctuates during the movie.  The thinner Bale gets, the creepier he looks.  He looks nothing like he did in the Batman movies.

Alice is Dickie and Micky's mother.  She is Micky's manager, though she doesn't really do that great of a job.  It is clear that she favors Dickie even with all his issues.  She does act like Micky can't do anything without Dickie.  Alice is basically impossible to like, though she does have a few moments every so often.  Melissa Leo is really good in the part.  George Ward is Micky's father.  He is involved in the boxing as well.  He gets frustrated with Alice and Dickie more than once.  Jack McGee does fine with the part, though he isn't around as much.  Mickey O'Keefe is a police officer who also trains Micky.  The real Mickey plays himself in the movie.  The sisters are in several scenes, though usually more in the background.  Only a few of them say much and none of them are developed.

Main Cast

Amy Adams - Charlene    
Christian Bale - Dickie Eklund
Melissa Leo - Alice
Jack McGee - George Ward
Mickey O'Keefe - Himself
Mark Wahlberg - Micky Ward

David O. Russell - Director

The Fighter is a very well done, entertaining movie that is definitely worth watching.  It probably won't appeal to some people.

*This review was originally posted after I saw the movie in the theater.  It is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Mark Wahlberg Movie Reviews 
Date Night ~ The Departed ~ Four Brothers ~ Invincible ~ The Italian Job ~ The Other Guys ~ Shooter ~ We Own the Night ~


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