“The Fighter” Wins A Round for Mark Wahlberg
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
My friend Jerry invests in prizefighters. He’s always off to Las Vegas or Atlantic City or someplace flashy to see his boy fight. He says his fighter’s a contender.
Mark Walhberg (the former Marky Mark, now a respected actor) stars in “The Fighter,” a movie about another contender, this one a pug from Lowell, Massachusetts, who has a shot at a title if his overly ambitious half-brother doesn’t get in the way.
“I’m the one fighting,” the pugilist shouts at his family. “Not you, and not you, and not you.”
Christian Bale plays the brother, his gaunt face a far cry from the chiseled-chin look in his Batman movies. Bale reportedly starved himself to lose weigh for the role.
Two of last year’s Oscar nominees, Amy Adams (“Doubt”) and Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”), play Micky’s bartender girlfriend and his “momager” (mother/manager).
“The Fighter” is based on the true story of “Irish” Micky Ward and his brother Dickie Eklund who helped train him before he went pro in the mid ’80s. Himself a boxer turned trainer, Dickie put his life back together after nearly being KO’d by drugs and crime.
This is more a story of siblings and family than boxing. You see, Micky’s family is holding back his career. His mom’s not getting him the fights he needs for a title shot. Everyone’s telling him what to do. He’s their gravy train. And it bothers him that they put their own greed ahead his wellbeing. After all, fighting’s a rough game.
Sparks fly when Micky proposes changing trainers from his brother to a Vegas professional. This is a boxing film with more fighting out of the ring than in it.
“The Fighter” is currently going the distance at the Tropic Cinema.
This is an important film to Wahlberg. He worked had to get it made and he’s proud of it, saying at its American Film Institute premiere that he would “mow lawns and shovel (manure) for two hours for anyone who didn’t enjoy the film.”
Directed by David O. Russell (“I Heart Huckabees,” “Flirting With Disaster”), this film is a showcase for Walhberg’s thespian skills as well as his physicality. Russell has worked with Wahlberg before in the soldiers of Desert Storm film, “Three Kings.”
Russell also directed a little indie film called “Spanking the Monkey.” My son Kevin helped edit that film. “The director was always sure of what he wanted,” recalls Kev. “He was very exacting.”
As for the real-life Micky Ward, he’s regarded as a workingman’s hero in his hometown of Lowell. Before retiring, he won two WBU light welterweight titles. His three matches with Arturo Gatti are legend. And three of Micky’s bouts (2001 with Emanuel Augustus, 2002 with Arturo Gatti, and 2003 with Arturo Gatti) were named as “Fight of the Year” by Ring Magazine.
“Irish” Micky Ward had a strong left hook and a rep for being able to withstand punishment inside and outside the ring. So can Mark Wahlberg.
[from Solares Hill]