The Fighter review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
The David O. Russell-directed film,‘The Fighter’, spotlights the hard-hitting and equally hard lives of half-brothers and boxers, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). Raised in downtrodden Lowell, Massachusetts, their ‘Pride of Lowell’ is Dicky, who shot to fame when he presumably knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard in a 1978 bout.
Most argue Leonard tripped but no matter, even when Dicky lost via unanimous decision, Dicky still rides on his fame/infamy. We see Dicky being followed by an HBO crew filming him – as he believes – as he makes his comeback to boxing. Dicky is also training his younger brother Micky, a welterweight boxer who is dubbed a ‘stepping stone’ – his opponents use him to move up the ranks.
Things aren’t getting any better, though.
I liken ‘The Fighter’ to the parable of ‘The Prodigal Son’ in the Bible. You have the problematic yet charismatic son Dicky, and the good, obedient son Micky. Nepotism runs deep in the family (and even in the Bible when you think about it) and it doesn’t help that their own mother Alice has a hard time disguising it. She knows Dicky’s her favorite, we know he’s her favorite, but she tries to deny it, oblivious to her favoritism.
Dicky is literally bad news (irresponsible and a crack addict at that), hurts his brother Micky’s chances at a respectable boxing career, and still, their mother Alice gives him concessions. When your family brings you down, what does Micky in the end choose – family or strategy?
‘The Fighter’ has the right amount of grit, realism, and drama that most boxing movies have a hard time to accomplish. Perfect casting, quiet moments combined with boxing action shot in low-res cameras, and a story showcasing underdogs – it does not pull any punches. And it’s a true story.