Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) is a former boxing hero that squandered his talents and threw away his shot at greatness. Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), his half brother, is a struggling journeyman boxer who spent his life living his big brother’s shadow. The Fighter is inspired by the true story of two brothers, who, against all odds come together to train for a historic title bout that will unite their fractured family, redeem their pasts and at last, give their hard-luck town what it’s been waiting for: pride.
After a slew of not so great movies, I had almost given up on 2010, until I went to watch The Fighter. The Fighter is a movie that is brilliant on levels that I can’t begin to describe. Within five minutes, I was reminded of The Champ – the 1979 movie starring Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway. I’ve seen that movie about a 100x, either on GTV or family-owned VHS. The Champ was the first movie I cried to, and not just regular crying, I bawled like a baby. The Champ touched my very core. It is so powerful and emotionally wrenching that I wasn’t the same each time I watched it.
The Fighter isn’t on the same level as The Champ, but it’s darn close. Boxing movies are the most popular sports movies, and there have been a number of great boxing movies since The Champ. Here’s a list of my top boxing movies of all time (before I watched The Fighter):
- The Champ
- Rocky (all five) – starring Sylvester Stallone
- Cinderella Man – starring Russel Crowe
- The Hurricane – starring Denzel Washington
- Million Dollar Baby – starring Hilary Swank
- Ali – starring Will Smith
- Raging Bull – starring Robert De Niro
If you haven’t seen any of these movies you best rent them now. Boxing movies are inspirational, no matter what your preferred sport is. There’s just something about them that touch your soul, and stir some deep urge to be all you can be, no matter the odds or the cost.
The Fighter is in the same league as the above listed movies, and here’s why.
The Cast – I can’t begin to describe the brilliant performance of Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg, particularly Christian Bale. I can honestly say Bale is one of the best method actors in the world, hands down. From his work in The American Psycho and The Machinist, to The Fighter, Christian Bale is dedicated and committed to transforming into his characters – physically and mentally. Once he immerses himself in a role there is just no telling where he will take the character. In The Fighter, Bale owns the character of Dicky in a way that completely makes you forget you’re watching Bale, the same person who played the bulky Bruce Wayne in the new Batman series. Bale’s acting was perfect and brilliant. I was sold hook, line and sinker on the character. Honestly, it was pure perfection and I sincerely hope he gets an Oscar for it.
Mark Wahlberg has come a long way from modeling Calvin Klein briefs and rapping with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. I love Wahlberg. He is versatile and he is trying. He is pushing himself and he needs to be commended for that. His acting only gets better and that shows dedication and resilience. He produced The Fighter and it took him years, but he never wavered. Walhberg wants to be more than just a cool actor, the guy behind Entourage and similar shows. I admire him for that. In The Fighter, Mark didn’t undergo any physical transformation, but he trained darn hard to play the role and it showed. From top to bottom, he was a boxer, a fighter. But he was also a fighter in turmoil and you could feel his pain, his desperation and his will. I swear, if I was watching the movie alone, I would be up boxing right along with him. I literally had to restrain myself in my seat. He was that good. The entire cast was that good.
What sold me on The Fighter was also the script. The Fighter is hard core and so is the dialogue. The dialogue hits you as hard as Micky’s punches. You feel it. All the back and forth interaction between Dicky, Micky, Micky’s girl, his mom and his family, it’s raw and tough. And you almost feel like you want to participate in the conversation.
The Fighter takes you on a journey that you can’t pull away from. You need to see it through. And unlike most movies where you’re rooting for one hero, or character, you’re really rooting for them all. It’s really not just about the boxing matches, it’s not about Micky winning those matches, you’re also concerned about Dicky and all the players involved. They’re your family too. That’s The Fighter. With 6 Golden Globes nominates, I expect this movie to sweep both the Globes and the Oscars. Love it. Love it.
I still probably wouldn’t date a boxer, the brain damage they sustain is real, but I will keep watching boxing movies for life! The Fighter is now my number 3 favorite boxing movie.