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If it weren't for my pesky brother and mother I coulda bin a contendah!!!!!!!!
The Fighter (DVD)
Member Name: paulie1975
The Fighter (DVD)
Advantages: Great Acting, great direction and visuals
The Fighter is a true story based on the American boxer Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg). The film focuses on Dicky Ecklund Jnr (Christian Bale) a former contender whose claim to fame was that he once knocked down the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard in a 1978 title fight before eventually losing to him and his half brother Micky 'Irish' Ward (Mark Wahlberg). In 2006 Dicky is a washed out crack addict but pushed by his brash mother and his own ego is considering a comeback and believes he has been chosen by HBO to be the star of a documentary about this, the documentary actually charts his crack addiction.
Micky is ten years Dicky's junior and is working as a road sweeper and fighting in his spare time, trained by his half brother and a local policeman, Mickey O'Keefe (Surprisingly played by himself). Dicky's addiction and his unreliable ways lead both Micky and Mickey to suggest he perhaps shouldn't be training the kid as he is washed out and wasted more often than not.
Both brothers are managed by their domineering mother, Alice Ward (Melissa Leo) who is more interested in her role in things than supporting her son.
Ward is a 'stepping stone' fighter, a guy used by promoters to build up and coming fighters as an easy knock out, and isn't considered worthy of anything more but he has dreams of emulating his drug addled brother/trainer and becoming a true contender, the story follows the true story of a a warrior who fight fans know never laked an ounce of heart in the ring and was in many ways a real life 'Rocky'.
As Micky considers whether family or success are his priority, Dicky has to assess his own life, both as role models for their children, whilst Alice has to contemplate her role as the mother of these two boys rather than simply hiding behind the 'Manager' monicker.
This is probably the strongest part of this story, the cast is exceptional and was rightly lauded at awards ceremonies, Bale showboats his way through the film, playing the unbalanced Dicky perfectly, walking the fine line between failed contender and a man who still feels his destiny is unfilled, however his drug addiction takes him into territory which Bale absolutely excels at, the world of the screw-up.
He portrays Dicky perfectly, he is up one minute, down the next, obsessed with his knock-down of Sugar Ray Leonard and absolutely loving his celebrity status in his small home town, he dominates the screen but doesn't come across as sympathetic in any sense until the final third of the film, but you will understand why. Bale puts a lot of himself into his roles and he has lost a lot of weight for this part, I found elements where he spoke about addiction in the documentary within the film very moving and a great testament to his acting ability, I also found his attempts to learn from his own behaviour inspiring and realistic, his Oscar is well deserved in a complex and at times unlikeable role.
Melissa Leo won a best supporting actress role for the part of the mother of 7 daughters and 2 sons who seeks to manage both her sons boxing careers. Her performance is excellent, but horrible, she is a pain, treating both her sons as parts in her own story, she is selfish, arrogant and determined to give her golden boy Dicky a second chance, ignoring her other son in the process.
The scenes in her smoke filled home with her 7 hideously couiffeured daughters are like something out of an advert for trailer parks, she isn't in it as much during the second half of the film and in many ways I was glad as for all her kind words about family, she seems more determined that her son mess things up with her as Manager than do well without her, the first half plays out as the Alice and Dicky show and you feel sorry for the main character Micky who simply struggles to get a word in.
Mark Wahlberg as Micky is excellent, his part has been undervalued by critics in my eyes, he acts without saying too much, as everyone else mouths off and pushes their own dreams and ambitions around him. His character follows his dreams and he quietly but bravely shows that by standing up to his family he has the balls to achieve much more in his boxing career.
Wahlberg put a lot into the part physically, he looks like a boxer, while he brings an understated touch of class to proceedings as a man who realises that your heroes will always let you down and you have to make your own dreams come true. He is the perfect counterpoint to the over the top characters around him and towards the end you want to cheer when he teaches his brother a brutal lesson and shuts his sibling and mother up in one foul swoop, a man of few words but strong principles. Wahlberg produced the film and must have felt much like the main character as the support actors got all the plaudits and awards while his solid and understated performance allowed those around him to excel.
Amy Adams is excellent as Charlene, the girl Micky falls for in a bar, who attended college but dropped out, she stands up to Alice and her ridiculous daughters and fights for her man, she pushes him to understand that he has one shot at succeeding and won't achieve it with his family telling him what to do......so she does instead!
She is sassy, smart and a very likeable influence on Micky, as in many boxing films, she is the rock to that gives her man the power and desire to achieve his dreams.
Solid support is provided by Jack McGee as George the derided father of Micky who only wants the best for his boy and Mickey O'Keefe, playing himself as Mickey's part-time trainer and a full time cop, he is actually very good and looks more like an actor than a boxing trainer.
Overall the cast are excellent and build this story up, as initially an achingly painful look at a dysfunctional family and finally a story of redemption.
Credit has to go to the actresses playing Alice's daughters, they are horrific and look like really depraved extras from the Jerry Springer show, they don't appear to be acting at all and give the film even more of a realistic feel than it already has.
I have to admit I hated the first half of this film, but it is absolutely essential to build the story to its climax. I hated it because the characters of Dicky and Alice felt so absorbed with Dicky that I felt sorry for Micky Ward, the main character, their selfishness and ability to see everything as an opportunity for Dicky overwhelm our hero and his problems clearly stem from family issues, but the second half of the film addresses these fully and doesn't dodge any punches in showing the characters for what they are. But people who are initially unlikeable develop sides which are likeable and you can understand why Micky might ever have hero worshipped his fallen brother.
I have discussed the acting which is excellent, well the visuals match the acting. The shots of the town where the family live are mind-numbingly dull and boring, but sum up small town life, the shots of the crack den show a broken band of freaks and losers beyond hope, the people in the town all know each other and aren't afraid to share opinions both positive and negative.
The characters aren't shot in their best light they are shot in a tinged early nineties style, but director David O Russell does throw in stylish shots at times, when Alice is on the phone to HBO, her feckless daughters are shown out of focus while her cigarette smoke is the main focus of the shot, this sums up the seedier side of the lower end of boxing promotion perfectly.
Speaking of Boxing, I felt the boxing shots were excellent, the fights were presented in the style of an HBO show and they looked authentic to that era, Wahlberg and his foes fight in a fairly realistic style, not too many sandbag noises, just lots of body shots, lots of misses and more realism than the 300 punches per minute of films like Rocky 3.
I found the film very gritty and honest, the camera work really adds to this, visually it reminded me of Darren Aronofsky's 'The Wrestler' paying homage to a small town hero and an era, it was executive produced by the great man so quite possibly that may have had something to do with it, although Russell is an original and bright talent and definitely stamps his own personality on this film with a sharp script, excellent story development and a cast who absolutely light up the screen.
The film also reminded me a little of the Sandra Bullock led 'The Blind Side' in the way it mixes real characters in the story with the actors, it works better here than in the former film as I didn't even realise that some of the characters were playing themselves until afterwards. The film is very natural and seems very realistic, helped by the fact I only knew of Adams, Bale and Wahlberg prior to this film.
This film demands your attention, it is a family drama as much as it is a sports film, the main character is hardly ever the main focus of the film, I felt Christian Bale's final shot in the film summed his character up perfectly, you have to watch it, but it was an excellent finish to the film.
Having watched Micky Ward in his three fights with Arturo Gatti and absolutely appreciated what a talented fighter and warrior he was, I did think the story underplayed his talent, he 'luckily' gets his title shot, but he was a golden gloves champion and really highly rated in the times before this story was set, but this film does almost imply that he perhaps wasn't, which is a shame.
At the end credits we see the real Micky Ward and his brother sat in a bar chatting, this sums up the electric energy of Dicky who Bale appears to have got spot on, down to his overexcitable desire to buddy up to everyone and the quieter yet commanding energy of Micky, I think Wahlberg will always be underrated for this film, but the moment when he achieves something and hears the comparison to his brother is exceptional, his eye movements say more than some actors can express in 20 minutes of ridiculous overacting.
This film reminds me of Raging Bull, it is dark, honest and really gets to the bare bones of boxing, but I think it is a more hopeful story and ultimately more rewarding and a film that will age really well.
This is a raw and demanding film that never overcomplicates things but does portray a complex family relationship where almost everyone is seeking some kind of attention. The direction, acting and story are excellent and it deserved all of the accolades without a doubt.
If this film were:
A Boxer it would be - 'Irish' Micky Ward - Plucky, never knows when it is beaten and a lot more complex than it looks.
An animal it would be - A Hippo - Powerful, has a slightly smelly feel to it and has lots of parasites (The 7 ugly sisters) eating from it.
A band it would be - Chumbawumba - It gets knocked down, but it gets up again............
The DVD is available from Amazon for £5.99 and is well worth it.
Summary: If it weren't for my pesky brother and mother I coulda bin a contendah!!!!!!!!