The Fighter is more a family drama than a boxing movie. In fact, the boxing scenes are the weakest part of the movie.
But this movie works and is well worth seeing for wonderful supporting performances by Christian Bale and Melissa Leo.
It’s based on a real boxer, Mickey Ward, from Lowell, Mass., where most of the film is shot and stars Mark Wahlberg as Ward. Although he’s the main character, a boxer trying to make it to a title bout, he’s often overshadowed by Bale, as his brother, and even by Leo, as his mother.
Bale’s character is a former boxer (who may or may not have knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard in his best match), now a crack addict and his brother’s undependable coach. Leo shines as his incompetent manager/mother.
Then Wahlberg finds himself a girlfriend (Amy Adams), a feisty barmaid, who understands that it’s Wahlberg’s family that is keeping him from a successful boxing career. She’s the one that helps him get to the title fight finale.
But it’s the dynamics of this dysfunctional family (there are also seven rather frightening sisters) that keeps your eyes on the screen.
While Wahlberg is competent in the lead, he’s not much of a boxer, always pounded into the ropes by his opponents till he comes alive and finishes the fight with a sudden punch or two.
There should be Oscar nominations for Bale and Leo for this.
Rating: four deer out of five
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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.