Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Fighter [2010]

Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee, Mickey O'Keefe
Genre: Drama/Sports
Rating: General
Comment: "Right up there with Raging Bull [1980]..."

The story takes place in the early days of "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) as a professional fighter. Some of his best days as a boxer comes late in his career as he spent his early years torn between pursuing his dreams and fulfilling his obligations to his family. Meanwhile his half-brother Dicky Eklund, who was a boxer himself, once shared the ring with the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard. But those days are behind him, he now trains his brother while struggling with a different opponent; cocaine.

Simply put, The Fighter tells the tale of the two brothers pursuing the ultimate goal of a boxer; winning a world title, while fighting their toughest battles outside the ring.
What to Expect:
1. Dramatic re-telling of the story of Micky Ward and his half-brother, Dicky Eklund.
2. The most realistic boxing scenes in movie history.
3. Captivating performance by Christian Bale.
4. Mark Wahlberg playing his typical tough guy character.

What NOT to Expect:
1. Cliched training montages.
2. Extended boxing scenes.
3. Micky Ward's epic fights with the late Arturo Gatti.
Before I proceed, I'd like to verify that I am indeed a big time fan of boxing. However, that doesn't mean that this review is biased in any way at all, this is indeed a great picture with more emphasis on the drama than the fights.

That's right. A boxing movie without much of fight scenes. Yeah, and there's no training montage with an adrenaline-pumping soundtrack either. I must say that the producers of the movie made this movie with the right frame of mind. The story of Micky Ward and Dicky Ecklund may not be as universally-known as Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson, but that doesn't mean it is any less intriguing.
If a guy decides to make a living by taking a beating, you know there must be an interesting story behind it. The Fighter is no exception.

But I'm not one to focus too much on the technical aspects of a movie, and I dare say it's easy to lose focus on it on the account of Christian Bale's performance. The guy has done it again. Not only he is the envy of weight-watchers around the world, he gave yet another very memorable performance in recent movie history. as Dicky Eklund. Okay, perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh on Mark Wahlberg, he may be a plank of wood with a scowl drawn on it, but to his credit he actually showed a little bit of his sensitive side this time around.

Well, I guess if I get to act alongside Amy Adams, I'd be inclined to show my sensitive side as well. *drool*

*ahem*... Well, the point that I'd like to bring forth here is that, you can't simply dismiss The Fighter as "just a boxing movie". Of course, boxing fans will instantly love it, but I bet even non-boxing fans alike will be able to connect with the story in some way, especially in regards to its universal theme of Pursuing your dream versus Fulfilling your obligations. The good story, strong characterisations, proper pacing and the realistic fights will certainly help you get there.

Without a doubt, I give The Fighter an A+.

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