It's really no wonder this film garnered so much attention in 2010 and at the Oscars this year. In a word: it's fantastic. The Fighter is anything but your typical boxing movie. It treads a tightrope-thin line between a well-done rousing sports movie and a gritty drama that claws at the most vulnerable points of the true story of brothers Dicky Eklund and Micky Ward. While it has its share of triumphant wins and devastating losses through adversity baseline it's the intricate and excruciating journey that Mark Wahlberg's Micky Ward endures on his journey to become a boxing legend that makes the film. But it's not just the sheer fact that he manages to wade through a seemingly endless sea of emotional wrecking balls the film derives much of its weight from the fact that the story wasn't thought up in some comfortable writers' loft. It's based on someone's actual life and the film pays tribute to that allowing the story's trajectory to trudge along down in the muck of the reality of it all. Yes we've heard the story before: a boxer is down on his luck the odds are against him the people around him are pulling him in a million different directions yet he presses on. It's not a story unlike any other but The Fighter manages to allow Ward's story to maintain its singular identity.
Part of the reason David O. Russell's fantastic film succeeds is the fact that they don't treat Micky's relationship with Dicky with kid gloves. While Dicky (Christian Bale) is very clearly a supporting character throughout Micky's journey and at no point overshadows the incredible story at the forefront of the film Bale proves the old adage that there are no small parts only small actors. He isn't the only part of the film worth watching but it's easy to see why the Academy went straight for Bale when handing out the Best Supporting Actor trophy. He plays through Dicky's troubling story with incredible subtlety and great care allowing him to be the driving force he should be without hijacking the film.
Fittingly Russell opts for a grimier feel and doesn't depend on vivid colors instead opting for the drab grayish brownish world of Lowell Mass. With some films it seems a bit silly to opt to pay a little extra for the Blu-ray when standard DVD would do the job but with a motion picture as masterfully crafted as The Fighter it's worth the dough. No there are no fantastic explosions -- unless you count that fight between Micky's mom (Melissa Leo) his sisters and Charlene (Amy Adams) -- but it's a film that deserves the high quality format.
When it comes to features you won't find a fountain of information but I think you'll find that there's enough to satisfy your curiosity. In essence they trimmed the fat. There isn't a single feature that won't enhance the film in a positive way. You've got your expected director's commentary deleted scenes and original trailer and the remaining features are where it really gets interesting. Being that the film works so hard to stay steeped in reality it's only fitting that the two (yes only two) featurettes included on the Blu-ray tap into the history behind the film. The first "The Warrior's Code: Filming The Fighter " intertwines your typical making-of or behind-the-scenes special with interviews and input from the real Dicky and Micky allowing you to see where history ends and the film begins. The other video is a short look into the community of Lowell Mass. They interview Micky's extended family neighbors childhood friends etc. and delve into the notion of boxing and what it means to the folks in Lowell where the brothers grew up and still live to this day. It's fascinating stuff and well worth the extra time.
The trailers for The Fighter may not have grabbed you the first time around -- I certainly wasn't impressed initially -- but once you dive into the story it's obvious that this is a film that anyone should be able to get something out of.