Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time!
Empire's Guardians Of The Galaxy Cover
Does Star Wars Have A Brain Trust?
Nick Frost:
My Movie Life

The World's End star's pick of the flicks
Subscribe: 6 Issues For £15!
Subscribe today and save 37% off the cover price!
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Christian Bale
Mark Wahlberg

Melissa Leo
Amy Adams.
Directors
David O Russell.
Screenwriters
Scott Silver
Paul Tamasy
Eric Johnson.
Running Time
115 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon
4 Star Empire Rating
Love Me Till Monday
3 Star Empire Rating
Bastards
3 Star Empire Rating
Tammy
2 Star Empire Rating
Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie
1 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
A Hard Day's Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Boyhood
5 Star Empire Rating
Rebel Without A Cause
5 Star Empire Rating
Calvary
5 Star Empire Rating
Wake In Fright
5 Star Empire Rating

The Fighter
He ain't heavyweight, he's my brother...


submit to reddit


Plot
The true tale of the early years of legendary fighter 'Irish' Micky Ward (Wahlberg), who triumphed over a complex family situation, including a crack-addict brother/trainer (Bale), to become a welterweight boxing champ in the 1980s.


Review
The Fighter
Browse more images »
'Gritty' and 'urban' seem to be two words very much back in vogue over the San Pellegrino and sarnies in Hollywood’s pitch meetings of late. Maybe it’s something to do with the slow-motion financial catastrophe, but filmmakers seem to be looking to the blue-collar heartland for dramatic inspiration. The Town put Ben Affleck in the less salubrious end of Boston, Russell Crowe found himself similarly hanging round a region of Pittsburgh without a Starbucks in The Next Three Days. And now Mark Wahlberg has found a Massachusetts ghetto to punch his way out of.

But while The Fighter, for its first hour or so, might look like a kind of grim inner-city parable — crack-addicted brothers living on the fumes of old dreams, hatchet-faced mothers exploiting their son’s pugilistic ambitions against a background of bar-fights and asphalt — underneath it’s impossible not to discern the throaty roar of a six-cylinder Hollywood engine. This is a rousing, masterly assemblage of rags-to-riches, triumph-over-the-odds, hopes-and-dreams-hanging-on-one-big-fight boxing movie clichés.

It’s also the most uplifting, exuberant fun you’re likely to have at the movies this year. The comparison is inevitable, so let’s get it over with: The Fighter is Rocky for this millennium.

Christian Bale is more than likely to get an Oscar nod for his portrayal of Dickie, Micky’s former champ brother and trainer whose drug habit lands him first in an HBO documentary about sports idols fallen to the crack pipe (he’s under the deluded impression they’re making a celebratory programme about his long-delayed comeback) and then in jail, and he’ll deserve it. But this is Wahlberg’s movie. His collaboration with David O. Russell, surely one of the most unexpected in recent Hollywood history, has finally borne uncontroversial fruit — and among the film’s pleasures is the news that Russell, as well as having a handle on the quirky, can also conjure the sensibilities of a robust storyteller with a sure feel for sucrose-free sentiment.

This is essentially the story of a boxer boxed-in, on one side by the limited possibilities offered by life in working-class Lowell, Massachusetts, and on all remaining sides by his family: this is a guy fighting out of the ring as much as he is in it. Wahlberg seems to be coming to realise that he’s at his best not as an action star but when he lets his guard down, and particularly when playing family dramas — The Yards, Four Brothers, Boogie Nights — he can be a revelation. (He’s also an impressive comic actor when he lets himself do it — this year’s The Other Guys was an inexplicably underrated hoot and much of his appeal in Scorsese’s Departed was as potty-mouthed comic relief.)

If Bale does get the Oscar nod at Wahlberg’s expense, it’ll be difficult not to feel as you did for Tom Cruise in Rain Man; like Cruise, he quietly gives a believable, restrained performance while his co-star launches a thespian blitzkrieg right next to him. But after Bale’s spectacular rockets have fallen to earth, the performance that stays with you is Wahlberg’s: a rueful shrug towards the camera in the very final shot as he’s elbowed out of the limelight by his brother yet again reveals a guy used, at least once upon a time, to being eclipsed by his siblings. After all, in real life he grew up with eight of them. He’s the bruised heart of the movie, and this is a movie with a very big heart indeed.


Verdict
The Fighter might tread the well-worn route of almost every sports movie before it, but two very different but equally powerful performances combine to deliver an exhilarating fight-flick that, like its scrappy central character, is impossible not to root for.


Reviewed by Adam Smith

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Fighter
Empire Star Rating

The Rocky sequels should of been like this.

Christian Bale Definently deserved his acadamy award for this. The performances in this film are legendary . ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by antosh25 at 10:07, 04 November 2012 | Report This Post


VERY GOOD, BUT NOT A FIVE.......

GREAT STUFF FROM BALE AND WAHLBERG....... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chrisdagnall at 18:51, 19 February 2012 | Report This Post


The Fighter Review

Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 23:37, 22 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Fighter

L: The REAL Bozz Nothing wrong with Wahlberg. In fact, it's a shame Bale puts in such a powerhouse, one can't help but overlook Wahlbergs solid performance. Horribly under rated, he's great in this and put the characters plight across brilliantly. Solid support from Leo and Adams. Almost my feel good movie of the year and it's better than Rocky.ote] Wahlberg´s performance in this is wooden.He cannot carry a role of any significance. Better than Rocky?Stop,it wouldnt eve make a spar... More

Posted by thetruth at 08:26, 01 October 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Fighter

Nothing wrong with Wahlberg. In fact, it's a shame Bale puts in such a powerhouse, one can't help but overlook Wahlbergs solid performance. Horribly under rated, he's great in this and put the characters plight across brilliantly. Solid support from Leo and Adams. Almost my feel good movie of the year and it's better than Rocky. ... More

Posted by The REAL Bozz at 23:27, 29 September 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Fighter

Thought a better actor than Wahlberg would have made this sooo much better. ... More

Posted by thetruth at 22:22, 22 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Fighter

L: MonsterCat Just finished watching this on DVD and even though it's a fairly cliched underdog/sports movie, I thought it was a strong movie, with a couple of fine performances from Bale and Wahlberg. There's also solid support from Amy Adams. Melissa Leo, though, was intensely irritating. It blows my mind that she trumped Hailee Steinfeld at the Oscars, ! ... More

Posted by thetruth at 22:21, 22 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Fighter

Not sure how I missed this on the cinema rounds but I finally got round to seeing this tonight. Christian Bale on a run of poor films, going head to head with another hot tempered director, and marky mark attempting to act yet again. PROS: -Just excellent performances all round. Bale is right back on form stealing every scene as wild eyed Dickey while Wahlberg delivers a more subtle lead character. Adams is great, as is the mother...while the sisters are just hilarious. -Fight ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by st3veebee at 02:42, 20 August 2011 | Report This Post


The Fighter

Just finished watching this on DVD and even though it's a fairly cliched underdog/sports movie, I thought it was a strong movie, with a couple of fine performances from Bale and Wahlberg. There's also solid support from Amy Adams. Melissa Leo, though, was intensely irritating. It blows my mind that she trumped Hailee Steinfeld at the Oscars, ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MonsterCat at 00:15, 20 June 2011 | Report This Post


K.O

Amazing, Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg should both get something for this as well as Amy Adams. terrific. It took the classic formulae, added some core and totally nailed it. A real K.O if you'll excuse the pun ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Zayd Awan at 22:08, 09 April 2011 | Report This Post


Heavyweight in boxing movies

Let’s face it, it was never going to win the Oscar but it sure is a good underdog. I went into The Fighter not knowing what to expect. I’ve either heard that it’s a boxing classic or that it’s over-rated and frankly it’s no Raging Bull but you’ve got to admit it’s a thoroughly enjoyable movie and a definitely must see for 2011. The Fighter is the true story of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his half-brother/trainer, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). Micky... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by oneangryman at 18:12, 14 March 2011 | Report This Post


fighting all the way

Any boxers out there in need of a trainer, should give Christian Bale a call. He's put in one of the most convincing portrayls and best performances of last year as Micky Ward's older brother, Dickie Ecklund. And before we get to any of the nitty-gritty, yes it is Oscar-worthy. On paper, a film about the career of Micky Ward could pale in comparison to the lives of most other World Champion boxers. In the ring he was steady and brave but, hardly prolific. He was only briefly a big name amon... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gzus at 15:11, 12 March 2011 | Report This Post


BIG YAWN

I tend not to really go much for sports movies - raging bull the exception but it's still not my favourite scousese film - This is really over rated and in no way oscar worthy - Below average ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 17:48, 08 March 2011 | Report This Post


Excellent biopic! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ARmy2510 at 23:15, 01 March 2011 | Report This Post


RE:

Entertaining but wholly unoriginal. Also, at times, it felt a little bit like a parody of Gone Baby Gone. ... More

Posted by gunstar at 11:39, 27 February 2011 | Report This Post


tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0964517/]The Fighterhe big suprise in the line of films that are nominated for a Best Picture Oscar this year is probably The Fighter, the based on a true story tale of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) about the rise & rise of Ward as boxer, trained by the fallen Eklund: once a pretty good boxer himself, now a drug addict. It`s the kind of typical "American Dream" film that they love so much in the States but never really gets ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 13:05, 25 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Fighter

]The Fighter (2010)/align]]Sometimes boxing out of corners is not confined to the ring./align]]The Fighter is directed by David O. Russell and collectively written by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. Music is by Michael Brook and cinematographer for the film is Hoyte van Hoytema. Film is based on the true life tale of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Wahlberg), who had to battle thru family strife to give h... More

Posted by JohnChard at 01:38, 25 February 2011 | Report This Post


review

Five stars ! A shame though that there is no mentioning of Amy Adams in the Empire review. The nomination is in the bag, but I hope she will get the Oscar for it. She deserves it more than Christian Bale, who sometimes would take me out of the movie because in my opinion, he sometimes over-acts his role ("look how good I am acting!") He's a good actor though, and deserves his Oscar for his career so far. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by M. at 08:11, 18 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: A knockout!

nothing on the gatti trilogy made me unhappy .... but a great performance from bale i kept thinking of rainman vvith tom c and d hoffman .... one gave the performance of a lifetime and the other guy did'nt really need too do much .... oh and neary - the fighter at the end - ...... never that good a fighter truth be told. ... More

Posted by Beno at 13:04, 17 February 2011 | Report This Post


A knockout!

I really enjoyed this film. Cracking performances from Bale and Wahlberg and some great supporting cast performances as well. You can't help feel sorry for Micky as his family try and drag him down. I wasn't expecting the film to have quite so many laughs in it, largely supplied by Micky's crazy mother and sisters. There's a turning point where it gets a bit more serious and then it goes all Rocky on us for the finale which is totally cliche but ufliftingly enjoyable. Great stuff! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trueborndjross at 09:09, 17 February 2011 | Report This Post


The Fighter (2011)

This movie belongs to Christian Bale for a blistering performance. He steals every scene but he doesn't overpower his fellow cast as they have also given a magnificent performance to balance the film. This film has the style of Rocky and Raging Bull which together with a modern twist gives it a true authenticity. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by abulazad47 at 22:48, 16 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Fighter

hter[/link]. I'd heard great things about this film and about all the pan Bale[/link] was amazing; it took only ten minutes for that to kick in. k at the early years of boxer "Iris film is based on the true story of Micky Ward, the younger, cast-into-the-shadows brother of Dicky Leo[/link]. Although they claim that this is all about Micky and familyst:[/b] [link=http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000242/]Mark Wahlberg[/link], [link=http://www.imdb.com/name/nan Ba=http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0010... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ashleyrhys at 12:44, 16 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Fighter

One of those "triumph over adversity” stories that reeks of Hollywood award-baiting, but nevertheless, is well-worked and entertaining throughout.   It's hard to fault any of those involved, as the cast are clinical in portraying their specific character moulds.  Wahlberg, an actor who can be so hit and miss (Boogie Nights, the Departed – hit! The Happening, the Lovely Bones – Miss!) perfectly captures the straight-laced sympathetic individual surrounded by slac... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 00:50, 16 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Fighter

When I saw the trailer for this in the theater I almost burst out laughing, along with everyone else. It looked like it was just going to be a bunch of shlock from Hollywood, but I decided to see it and I was actually pleasantly surprised. This film was quite heartwarming and dealt with some difficult subject matter. But I liked it because it was raw, real, and warm. And even funny in moments. David O Russell is a talented, crazy man. "The Fighter" was surprisingly real. Christain Bale is... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sethjared at 23:16, 12 February 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The Fighter

Great film that had me rooting for Wahlberg throughout. Bale is magnificent!! ... More

Posted by musht at 23:43, 10 February 2011 | Report This Post


More user comments

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Film Studies 101: Ten Movie Formats That Shook The World
The pre-digital innovations that formed modern cinema

Exodus: Gods And Kings: Ridley Scott's Trailer Breakdown
The director talks us through his enormous Biblical epic

Jay Baruchel Talks How To Train Your Dragon 2
From The Human Centipede to the origin of 'Useless reptile'

Spotify Playlist: Now That's What I Call... Richard Linklater!
The Boyhood director has a soundtrack for life

Empire At EIFF 2014: Elijah Wood Q&A
See highlights of our Edinburgh chat with the actor

The Empire Podcast #118: Keira Knightley And Dean DeBlois Interviews
The Begin Again star and How To Train Your Dragon 2 director pop in for a chat

Watch: Industrial Light & Magic's Greatest Hits
From Star Wars to Transformers, we run through some of the best individual moments from the special effects masters

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time Subscribers' Cover

Subscribe today and get the cover and 3 issues for only £10!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £18!
Special 25th anniversary offer for one month only! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)