Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Fighter (DVD Review)

Legal Line © 2010 Fighter, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved. © 2010 Fighter, LLC. Tous droits réservés. Distribué exclusivement au Canada par Alliance Vivafilm. Tous droits réservés.

Dir: David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings)
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo
USA, 2010

Reason to see: Compelling story, love sport movies and numerous acting wins & nominations

I had a lot conflicting emotions and information heading into The Fighter. I felt that the trailers gave away too much, but when you consider it's a biopic the is a theory that is that justified because the information is out there, although it's clear that the heart of the drive of getting this film made was to have this story told which by definition meant not enough people knew it. Then I saw lots of clips from the film at various awards shows, including the Oscars where the films won 2 acting awards from Supporting Actress - Melissa Leo and Supporting Actor - Christian Bale. So, my expectations were all over the place. Did I know too much? What it about what I thought it would be about? Was the acting really *that* good?

First off, the acting really is that good. Well deserving of all the nominations and wins from the cast, and in particular Christian Bale who gives a fantastic performance as the strung-out-boxer turned-amazing-yet-eccentric-trainer Dicky and Amy Adams in her cast against type role of down to earth, rough around the edges but very sensible Charlene. What I'm surprized at though is how little people are talking about the phenomenal, understated and beautiful performance from Mark Wahlberg who plays the lead role or Micky Ward in the film. He's absolutely fantastic and trained for years getting into fighting shape for the film and not only delivers a great physical performance in the ring scenes, but also a great dramatic performance in the quiet role of Micky who faces challenges in and out of the ring, often at the hands of the family whose omnipresent energy manages to concurrently support and conflict his boxing journey.

From that perspective the film is as much a family drama as it is a boxing film, and it integrates those two themes as seamlessly as we come to understand that they are in Micky and Dicky's lives - which is to say that they stretch into every, single aspect of their lives and the conflict of trying to pull them apart. The film also portrays the huge sense of pride that the brothers have, could and potentially represent to the town of Lowell, Massachusetts when the story is set and when the film was filmed. You can earnestly feel the importance of depicting and presenting the tough town authentically, and the film even includes things like Mickey O'Keefe, police officer & trainer being played by the actual Mickey O'Keefe from Lowell which is amazing. I would have had no idea that he wasn't an actor from just watching the film.

That sense of pride is ever present in the film, as well as an amazing drive to show the truth regardless of how rough and heartbreaking it could be from substance abuse to family conflict. While watching, I found the film kind of snuck up on me and gradually won me over bit by bit, not just in the big fights but also in the day to day moments that often packed an emotional punch. The characters and easy to fall in love with and cheer for, though trying times and good times you are just rooting for them all the way. And I like that. I want people to root for, and The Fighter gives us people to root for in many ways from personal, to professional, to beyond. The Fighter is a great inspirational film.

DVD Extras:
  • Audio commentary with director David O. Russell interesting audio commentary covering many aspects of the film including the story of it coming together, often noting scenes and moments that actually happened in the lives of the people it's based on or if it was added and the reasons behind that, moments that he particularly liked and lots of shout outs and love for Lowell, the locals and the people the film is based on.
  • The Warrior's Code: Filming The Fighter (30 minutes) film clips, behind the scenes footage of filming, archive images of Dicky Ekland and Micky and interviews with cast and crew including director David O. Russell, producer/actor Mark Wahlberg, producer Todd Lieberman, producer/writer Paul Tamasy, producer David Hoberman, producer Dorothy Aufero, trainer Bo Cleary, producer Ryan Kavanaugh, the real Micky Ward & Dicky Ekland, actors Christian Bale, Jack McGee, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams, Mickey O'Keefe (the real Mickey O'Keefe who also plays the police officer & trainer in the film) and various members of Micky & Dicky's family. Interviews cover many topics including what the film is about, the draw to and appeal of of the story, casting - especially casting of Mark Wahlberg as Micky, the challenges of the film, training for the film, the drive to realistically look the part for the film, challenges, decisions and methods of filmmaking from the fights, shooting on location in Lowell and also footage of Mark Wahlberg training with Micky and Dicky.

The Fighter is available on DVD as of March 15, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I recommend it to fans of sport films, dramas and great acting

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Image: Photo credit JoJo Whilden. Left to right Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward and Amy Adams plays Charlene Fleming in THE FIGHTER, an Alliance Films’ release. © 2010 Fighter, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Image: Photo credit JoJo Whilden. Left to right Christian Bale plays Dicky Eklund and Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward in THE FIGHTER, an Alliance Films' release. © 2010 Fighter, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


mcarteratthemovies said...

Good ole' Christian Bale -- is there anything this guy can't do? I'm waiting for him to take a part that requires him to sing showtunes. I say he can do it.

InMovies said...

Wouldn't that be a sight, Christian Bale on Broadway! He would probably rock that performance too. This movie really proves just what an incredible actor he is, and how diverse can be in any role he takes on.

And you're right, you can't help but fall in love with all the characters as the movie progresses. The depth of their personalities shines through. You love the good ones, and love to hate the bad ones. A great addition to any movie lover's library.

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