This week we’re going to look at movies about combat sports, starting with ‘The Fighter’. ‘The Fighter’ is a semi-biographical film about a professional boxer named “Irish” Mickey Ward and his struggle to rise through the ranks of professional boxing while dealing with his family.
Ring opponents aren’t the only thing Ward has to battle. His over-bearing mother and his large family are more hindrance than help most of the time, but his biggest stumbling block is his former pro boxer half-brother, Dicky Eklund. Eklund helps Ward train, but his crack addiction causes difficulties. Dicky, who had a fight once with Sugar Ray Leonard, can’t seem to come to grips with his addiction or the fact that his glory days are behind him. Despite the fact that Eklund obviously cares for Ward, his criminal ways lead to an arrest and career-threatening injury for Ward.
‘The Fighter’ is a gritty and realistic film. All the characters have plenty of flaws and nobody comes out of this looking like a saint. Melissa Leo won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Ward’s mother and Christian Bale won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the drug addicted has-been Eklund. Both played their parts convincingly.
However, Mark Wahlberg stole ‘The Fighter’ with his portrayal of Mickey Ward. Before Wahlberg was a real actor and before he was Marky Mark, he was an Irish Catholic kid from a blue collar home in Boston. Wahlberg got into his share of trouble before he got his live together and it lends some authenticity to this screen version of Ward. Wahlberg also brought good physicality to the part.
Even though this is an “against all odds” boxing movie, I’d hesitate to call this a Bay State version of ‘Rocky’. ‘The Fighter’ concentrates more on the relationships in Ward’s life than on the training and boxing end of it. While you are pulling for Ward to succeed, it’s not the same feeling you got with any of the ‘Rocky’ films.
This is not a family friendly film. The profanity is graphic and plentiful and drug use is prevalent in the movie. Characters are depicted doing a lot of things that you probably don’t want your kids to mimic. Despite the presence of a couple of positive messages, the negative behaviors make me unable to recommend it for the under 17 crowd.
Critics loved ‘The Fighter’ and it was nominated for a pile of awards. It enjoys a very high 79 of 100 score at Metacritic. ‘The Fighter’ is available at the Target store located at 9350 Dynasty Dr in Fort Myers. (Click here for a map). Currently the DVD sells for $14.99.
If you have questions, suggestions or just want to tell him how wrong he is about your favorite movie, email Alan.