BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Fighter
Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale make this award winner one not to miss...
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The difference between a good sports film and a great sports film is fairly simple: does the film evoke realistic emotions all of us have felt or could feel and, if so, in what way can I relate to the characters? After all, not all of us have won a Super Bowl, World Series, or title fight; but most of us have felt the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. And, at different levels, each of us have felt most of the emotions most of the sports films out there exemplify. Be it that rush of adrenaline before a big play, that scare following a pulled muscle, or those marvelous endorphins that keep you running, rushing and fighting, if a film can't put you in the character's shoes, it's hard to relate.
That said, The Fighter hits home in more ways than one. Based on a true story that's gritty and raw, The Fighter features plenty of drama, romance and action. All that combined with brilliant performances (two of which won Academy Awards) and you've got yourself one heck of a movie. So why didn't I enjoy this sports film? Probably because more than anything, The Fighter isn't about sports or even boxing; it's about drugs and what they can do to you, no matter who you are and what you've done.
This marvelous yet depressing film follows the lives of two boxers and half brothers Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Bale in his Academy Award winning performance). The pair grew up, live and train in Lowell, Massachusetts, a small community which sees the elder, Dicky, the local hero following his fight against Sugar Ray Leonard.
However, the years following the fight haven't been kind to Dicky; he's an addict and lives through his brother, Micky, who continues to fight to support family and his abusive manager/mother Alice (Melissa Leo in her Academy Award winning performance). Without a plan and fighting men bigger and better, Micky soon meets Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams in her Academy Award nominated performance), a local waitress who helps him realize his potential. Soon, we watch the rise of Micky and the decent of Dicky, wondering how the pair can share parentage and knowing the pair will have to again meet.
Again, more a character drama than a sports piece, The Fighter delivers an intriguing story of success, failure, victory, defeat and the redemptive qualities each and every one of us has...if only we're brave enough to put them to work. Thanks to a solid script by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy, quality direction by David O. Russell, and outstanding performances by the entire cast, The Fighter is a film not to be missed.
The blu-ray features a gorgeous video transfer in 1080p with plenty of detail and tight, crisp lines. The colors - whether they're the bright lights of Las Vegas or the dark earth-tones of Lowell - shine. Likewise, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack delivers both clear dialogue and soundtrack. Both background sounds , the yelling crowd, the barroom brawl, as well as the straight-forward dialogue clearly projects from all relevant speakers.
For those looking for even more in-depth info, The Fighter features a number of special features worth a look, including an audio commentary with director David O. Russell reveals the development of the film, how the story was adapted from the real story, the cast’s performances, and more.
For those who would rather watch the more typical “Behind the Scenes” type documentary, there’s The Warrior’s Code: Filming The Fighter, which clocks in at 30 minutes and features cast and crew interviews, info on Wahlberg’s training, and both real-life brothers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund. A final 8 minute “Keeping the Faith” short features both the real-life Ward and Eklund family discussing their family’s boxing pastime.
Other special features include deleted scenes with optional director commentary and the film’s theatrical trailer. While maybe not as many special features as some films, there’s plenty of high quality extras to enjoy.
Again, The Fighter isn’t about sports or even boxing, it’s about the struggle to overcome obstacles. It’s this “fight” that each of us have experience, that each of us can relate to and understand. Likewise, it’s this “fighter” in each of us that will either rise to the challenge or trip, fall and – with the right attitude – stand back up, get back in the ring, and continue the fight.
The Fighter is rated R for language throughout, drug content, some violence and sexuality and is available now wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley