Crack at the Title
Boxing movies tend to have similar mechanisms going on, the underdog coming good when opportunity comes knocking being one of the most often used. And in fairness there is a touch of that in "The Fighter" and with it there are the requisite training scenes as well. But what is different about "The Fighter" is that not only is it about the people behind the boxer but it is also a double underdog coming good storyline.
Now whilst I am a fan of boxing movies my knowledge of boxing is slim and so the names Dicky Eklund and his half brother Micky Ward meant nothing but it is their story on which "The Fighter" is based. And whilst I can guess some poetic licence has been used in turning their story into something which works on screen it is a heck of an entertaining story.
You can actually split "The Fighter" in to two halves with the first half being all about Micky being managed by his pushy mum and trained by his crack addicted brother Dicky who is still living off the fact he knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard in a fight and as such he loves the fact HBO are making a documentary about him. Now as I said part of "The Fighter" is about the people behind the boxer and this first half is all about the family dynamic, the way their mum Alice loves Dicky to the point of being blinkered to how Micky feels being used by them both and how despite it being his time to shine as a boxer everything is always about Dicky. To say it is entertaining almost feels wrong because basically Alice runs the family like a boss telling people what to do and with all the daughters spewing venom to back her up it is an aggressive family set up.
But then as events transpire we then get the two underdog stories, there is the more obvious one as Micky gets the support he needs and earns himself a crack at the title. I say obvious because this is where we get the various boxing cliches from the training sessions to quite literally being an underdog with few fans and whilst the in ring action is brutal it is still the cliche aspect. But then you have the more interesting underdog story which is that of Dicky and events transpiring for him to come good, to kick the habit and support his brother rather than stealing the limelight from him. It makes the second half much more interesting as issues form within the family as decisions divide and relationships become strained.
What this means is that whilst both Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale give convincing performances as the brothers, with Bale once again shocking through attaining a realistically gaunt figure it is the story which drives the movie rather than the stars. And rather ironically whilst Wahlberg and Bale are the stars of the movie with Amy Adams doing a nice job of playing Micky's Charlene who helps him take a stand against the family it is Melissa Leo as Alice, the family matriarch who steals the movie. Leo is fearsome as this pushy mother and the spitefulness and aggression when she feels threatened is unsettling and in a way reminded me of the way Billie Whitelaw played Violet Kray, mother to the Kray twins in "The Krays".
What this all boils down to is that "The Fighter" is a terrific boxing movie because not only does it deliver the requisite boxing cliches it also delivers a fantastic original storyline about the people behind the fighter and a secondary underdog story.
Tags: Boxing Movies