The Fighter is a 2010 biographical film about the rise of Micky Ward the well known for his trilogy of fights with Arturo Gatti – the first of which was voted by Ring Magazine as the Fight of the Year 2002 and the third was the Ring Magazine Fight of the Year 2003.
The film charts the rise of Welterweight ‘Irish’ Micky Ward (played by Mark Wahlberg) from Lowell Massachusetts, from a journeyman boxer who is being used as a ‘stepping stone’ to advance other fighters to winning an upset victory to take the WBU light welterweight title. Throughout the film Micky has to battle not just his opponents in the ring, but also his feuding team comprising of his mother/manager Alice Ward (Melissa Leo), and his brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) himself a once talented boxer who knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard who has fallen foul of a crack cocaine addiction.
“He did not just get off the f****n’ couch. If he did, I’m gonna buy a couch like that”
– Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg)
The film was a great commercial and critical success, nearly hitting $130 million at the box office and reaching a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for 7 oscars including Best Picture and Best Director, and it won the awards for Best Supporting Actor for Christian Bale’s role and Best Supporting Actress for Melissa Leo’s, making it the first film to win both of these since 1986.
Mark Wahlberg puts in an outstanding performance as Micky, he trained as a boxer for two years for the role, including building the mother of all home gyms at his Beverly Hills mansion, complete with full regulation sized ring. Hitting the bag and pads everyday, and when it didn’t matter if he showed up to work with a black eye, putting in some serious sparring. The training pays off, Wahlberg makes a very believable boxer which adds massively to the realism of the film.
The other actor who managed a massive transformation for his role was Christian Bale, well known for extreme body changes between roles, who dropped from around 86kg whilst filming The Dark Knight to 66kg to play the crack addicted character of Dick Eklund, and spent hours with the real Dick Eklund to learn to mimic his characteristics. Another very believable transformation, and one that paid off for Bale when it netted him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
The filming of The Fighter is very well done particularly the fights and documentary scenes. To achieve the right feel to the footage those scenes were filmed on original 1990s era HBO cameras, and pieces of the set such as the boxing gym are shot on location in a still functioning Lowell Boxing gym.
And underdog story through and through – the boxing scenes will have you on the edge of your seat cheering for Ward, the training montages will get you inspired to hit the gym and the drama in between the fights helps bring the characters to life. This is a film I would recommend to everyone with an interest in fighting, and boxers in particular are going to love it.
Most memorable line
This is a tight one; in the final fight scene the commentator says ‘Ward nods as if to say “C’mon, c’mon let’s fight… Just imagine if you brought a ticket…” both of which are great lines taken straight from the commentary on the ninth round of the first Ward Vs Gatti fight. However for me the most memorable line has to be Micky Ward, after seeing the size of his opponent who he’d been told would be out of shape, who says “He did not just get off the f****n’ couch. If he did, I’m gonna buy a couch like that”.
5 stars out of 5