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Reviewed by: Bill Ramey
December 16, 2010
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OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: A look at the early years of boxer "Irish" Micky Ward and his brother who helped train him before going pro in the mid '80s.
DIRECTED BY: David O. Russell
WRITTEN BY: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson
CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams
STUDIO: Paramount
OFFICIAL SITE: THEFIGHTER.COM
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Crazy Family Drama + Drug Addiction Film + Sports Movie = THE FIGHTER.

THE FIGHTER is based on the true life story of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) -- a smalltime boxer from Lowell, Massachusetts. Micky dreams of becoming a great boxer and following the footsteps of his older half-brother, Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale). Dickie serves as Mickey’s trainer, but there’s a problem: Dickie’s a big-time crackhead.

In addition to being trained by his drug addicted brother, Micky’s large, blue-collar Irish family is pretty much the definition of the term “dysfunctional.” There’s his domineering mother Alice (Melissa Leo), submissive father George (Jack McGee), and a number of grown siblings (including the aforementioned Dickie) who’ve all got problems as well. Though he has tons of potential, Micky’s actually being kept down by his sycophantic relatives

Then Dicky meets Charlene (Amy Adams), a no-nonsense young bartender with a backbone, who ultimately opens Micky’s eyes to the “loser-ness,” if you will, of his family. Of course, Charlene quickly becomes a villain in the eyes of the Ward family for helping to emancipate Micky from the grasp of his family. Regardless, once free, the fighter finally reaches his potential.

As far as the performances by the ensemble cast, tremendous work by all. Wahlberg is likable and convincing as the “Rocky-esque” underdog, Leo’s tremendously unlikable as the overbearing and possessive family matriarch, and Adams’ brings much more to the table than simply “the love interest.”

But the standout performance here hands down belongs to Bale -- who is almost unrecognizable as the balding, thin-as-a-rail, bad-toothed, raspy-voiced, crackhead Dicky. He is supposed to be Micky’s trainer, but he’s more worried about scoring his next hit of crack and carrying on about his “comeback” -- which he proclaims is being chronicled by HBO. Yeah, he’s being featured in an HBO documentary, but not about this “comeback,” but for a feature on crack addicts. Bale is so obnoxious and boisterous in the role that one would believe that he’s overacting. But he’s not; this is how this dude actually was (and still is apparently) in real life.

OK, I know my readers are like 99% male and most of them just want to know if this is a “kick ass boxing film.” I’ll be honest, it’s of more crazy-family drama than a boxing flick. When it comes to the latter, I prefer RAGING BULL and, of course, ROCKY. Hell, I’d rank MILLION DOLLAR BABY above this one. However, this is a damn good film featuring enough drama, depression, love story, and sports to satisfy just about everyone.

GRADE: A-

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