“Irish” Mickey Ward is probably not a name well known amongst the general public, That is unless you have watched a lot of Boxing. The Fighter is the back story surrounding Mickey Ward’s rise to pro boxing, and to the beginning of the trilogy of Boxing matches that will remain in boxing folk lore for eternity.
The Fighter is in no way this generations “Rocky”, however at times it comes awful close. Mark Wahlberg gathers an astonishing cast around him that really bring realism to the all too real story of a family struggling with a drive to succeed, destructive personal lives and the pressures of society.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Mickey Ward, a young up and coming Boxer struggling to break into the pro Circuit. His hero, mentor and brother is Dickie Ward (Christian Bale) a one time pro boxer and hometown hero after his perceived knock down of Sugar Ray Leonard in the ring. Behind the two of these is a boxing mad family living off the coat tails of these two talented boxers. Their manager and Mother Alice Ward (Melissa Leo) is driven by Dickie’s success and the desire to see Mickey follow in his footsteps. However after a poorly managed boxing match, Mickey starts to question why he stays loyal to his family, which is blinded by the goal of winning boxing championships to the crumbling reality of Dickie’s true state of mind.
This is a story that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. You will find moments of laughter, hatred, hope, despair and elation. Wahlberg does gather some of the most talented actors and actresses around, which is evident with the Golden Globe wins for Bale and Leo. To say Christian Bale is a super freak would be the understatement of the decade. His ability to fit into character is just surreal. His portrayal of Dickie Ward is just so real you cant help but wonder if he had done years worth of drugs to fit the role. After seeing this film I couldn’t help but think that was an award winning performance.
Some of the scenes in this film, especially around the slow motion boxing sequences, came off a little cheap. However while this movie is about boxing, the back story is the core and its a deep and moving story, so some of the not so great boxing sequences can be ignored. The penultimate fight at the end of the film is the first of the famous Ward vs Gatti matches. These fights are legendary and award winning in their own rights. The film does a good job in capturing the emotion of the moment and creates a fantastic end point to an amazing story.
The Fighter is a great film with amazing acting and is a worthy addition to any DVD collection, even if it’s just because of Bale and Leo’s award winning performance.
Reviewed by: Skip Parker