Directed by David O. Russell, 2010’s The Fighter starred Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo in a fantastic portrayal of the life and rise of professional boxer ‘Irish’ Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his relationship with his older half-brother Dicky Eklund (Bale).
Alongside the incredible Wahlberg-Bale combo, Adams shines as Micky’s girlfriend Charlene Fleming, while Leo is sublime as Micky and Dicky’s overbearing mother, Alice.
The film was inspired by the 1995 documentary that features the Eklund-Ward family, titled High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell, and featuring prominent themes of drug addiction, family division and working class struggle, The Fighter hits hard in more than just the obvious places.
With Wahlberg’s Massachusetts twang set to ‘knock out’, the expectations were high from this homage to a real-life Lowell legend, but would it punch up to and above it’s weight, or go out in the first?..
Once known as the ‘Pride of Lowell’, former boxer Dicky Eklund clings to an evaporating claim to fame that he knocked down boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard in their 1978 fight.
Fast-forward to 1996, and Dicky, now a crack addict, is in front of the cameras with a film crew working on a documentary about him, the focus of which, he believes, is his boxing comeback.
For the past decade however, Dicky has been focused on the training of his younger half-brother, Micky Ward, who has a reputation as a stepping stone used by other boxers to get to better fights.
The careers of both brothers are managed by their controlling mother, Alice, who believes it better to keep all boxing business in the family.
However, due to his enveloping crack addiction, Dicky is consummately unreliable, which Micky is slowly but surely coming to see.
Not only that, a move by Dicky and Alice at one of Micky’s fights leads Micky to the realization that his boxing career is being stalled and perhaps even under-minded by the two, who are only truly looking out for themselves.
With this view backed up by his new girlfriend, local bartender Charlene, Micky tries to push forward in the boxing world without Dicky and Alice, infuriating them both.
With his future now in his own hands, Micky has to figure out where his mother and brother fit into his life, and balance his family relationships with his growing career, and a dream shot at the world welterweight championship…
With positive reviews following its release, The Fighter grossed $129 million worldwide and was recognised as a success.
Critics praised the performances of Wahlberg, Adams, Bale, and Leo, with the unbelievably compelling Bale certainly attracting the lion share of the compliments.
Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, The Fighter won the awards for Best Supporting Actor (Bale) and Best Supporting Actress (Leo), and was the first single film to do so since 1986’s Hannah and Her Sisters.
An incredible piece of filmmaking by Russell, and a truly exceptional turn from Bale, The Fighter stands as one of the greatest boxing flicks ever made, packing a cerebral, emotional and entertaining right hook that will floor you every time.