Blu-Ray Review: Crowd-Pleasing ‘The Fighter’ Delivers Knockout

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CHICAGO – One of the strongest ensembles of 2010 worked together to create the crowd-pleasing “The Fighter,” a film with multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, that walked home with two major trophies for Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo). Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a film will stand the test of time (the jury is still out on how history will judge “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech”) but there is little doubt that “The Fighter” will be satisfying audiences for decades. A great Blu-ray release from Paramount doesn’t hurt. Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0

As many talked about the new school vs. old school approach with David Fincher and Tom Hooper’s films, it may have been missed that the most old-fashioned crowd-pleaser of the nominees was probably Russell’s drama about the little guy who both overcame his family and embraced it to win. It had everything — sports drama, romance, action, and some of the best performances of the year. There are very few people out there who wouldn’t at least like a film as enjoyable as “The Fighter,” and many will love it.

The Fighter
The Fighter
Photo credit: Paramount

“The Fighter” has a simple title for a reason — it’s a simple film about one man’s rise to a legendary knockout. Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is, simply, the fighter. He starts fighting. He stops fighting. He fights again. Around him swirl an ensemble of larger-than-life characters, but Mickey is the straight man of the piece — the man who fights. And it’s the deceptively simple structure of the story that actually works to its benefit. We can project whatever we want on to Mickey. He can be what we think we are or what we want to be. Most of us won’t identify with the saga of Mickey’s brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) or his borderline-insane mother Alice (Melissa Leo), but we all like to think that we’re a fighter in life.

The Fighter was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on March 18th, 2011.
The Fighter was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on March 18th, 2011.
Photo credit: Paramount Home Video

People love boxing movies. It’s the most prominent sport featured in film history for a reason. There’s something identifiable about the arc of a man reduced to nothing but his fists who gets up off the mats and beats the odds. We all like to think we could do the same, even if just symbolically. And we all have family issues, although yours may not be as extreme as Mickey Ward’s.

“The Fighter” is also the story of Dicky Eklund, a former boxer who still refers to himself as “The Pride of Lowell” for the one match in which he knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard (although he might have just slipped). Dicky thinks he’s still the fighter, the one who HBO has come to chronicle, but they’re actually there to display the harm of crack cocaine. Dicky can’t focus long enough but he loves his brother and almost needs him to succeed where he can’t even admit that he’s failed in life.

It’s easy to see where “The Fighter” is going but it’s the trip that’s far more important than the destination. And the ensemble along with underrated, lively direction by Russell, couldn’t be stronger. Bale deserved his Oscar and while I would have gone with Amy Adams for Supporting Actress, I’m not upset that Leo took it from her co-star. They’re both spectacular. As is Wahlberg, who plays the straight man to the chaos around him and he’s perfect.

The Fighter was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on March 18th, 2011.
The Fighter was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on March 18th, 2011.
Photo credit: Paramount Home Video

The Blu-ray for “The Fighter” is a beauty with an excellent transfer, one of the best for a new release so far this year. The audio booms as well, perfectly accompanying the film, which stands up extremely well on repeat viewing. It’s the kind of work that I expect people will watch repeatedly for years, whether it be on Blu-ray, DVD, or just every time it comes on cable.

The special features are notable as well, especially over 16 minutes of deleted scenes that offer a further glimpse into not just the great performances but the process of editing the film down to what was so successful in theaters. Excellent featurettes and a commentary track offer further depth. One of the best films of 2010 is one of the best Blu-ray releases of the year so far.

Special Features:
o Commentary by Director David O. Russell
o The Warrior’s Code: Filming The Fighter
o Keeping the Faith
o Deleted Scenes
o DVD Copy
o Digital Copy

‘The Fighter’ stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, and Jack McGee. It was written by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson and directed by David O. Russell. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 15th, 2011. It is rated R and runs 115 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

David Smith's picture

The Fighter

Such a great movie I just Loved it!

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