Paramount Pictures | 2010 | 116 mins. | R

Like Rocky, Raging Bull and many other boxing movies, The Fighter doesn’t offer a particularly original story. We get the underdog who achieves sports glory despite many disadvantages. Where The Fighter succeeds is the inspiration found in the relationship between two brothers, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) and Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and their interactions within their community. It’s an aggravated picture that, much like its real-world inspiration, has enormous spirit to overcome its dreary familiarity.

The FighterAs the film opens, it’s 1992. An HBO film crew is following local legend Dicky Eklund around the streets of Lowell, Massachusetts. Though the filmmakers are open about the purpose their project—a look at how cocaine destroys lives—Dicky the addict believes they are documenting his “comeback.” After a career mostly remembered as “what could’ve been,” Dicky spend his time in a well known crack house getting high.

Despite his issues, Dicky adores his younger pugilist brother. Dicky trains him, and his mother  (Melissa Leo), acts as his manager. Unfortunately, their ineptness leads to Micky fighting a man 20 pounds heavier and getting pummeled. Soon thereafter, when Dicky’s criminal activities lead to a jail term, Mickey breaks with his mother and brother. His new support system includes his father, George (Jack McGee); his girlfriend, Charlene (Amy Adams); and his new trainer, Mickey (Mickey O’Keefe). As Mickey moves his way up the boxing ranks, the friction in his personal life threatens to derail his career.

The best asset of The Fighter is the actor’s performances. Christian Bale delivers the performance of his career. Looking like a gaunt, wisp of a man he embodies the drug addict, has-been boxer. He inhabits a world that denies the truth about everything that’s going on around him. His denial is reinforced by his mother; she may not be a drug addict, but she sees the world through rose-colored glasses that distort the truth and allow her to only see the world as she wants it to be. Melissa Leo is excellent in the role; she handles her character’s feistiness and belief in a distorted reality with precision. Mark Wahlberg’s Micky is torn. Wahlberg’s not only convincing as a well-trained fighter, but he plays a hurt and uncertain but determined individual with just the right combination of sincerity and strength. Lastly, Amy Adams is perfect in her portrayal of Micky’s girlfriend; her character is both a source of strength for Micky and a source of contention for his family. Her good intentions and blunt talk are met with skepticism and disdain, but she may very well be the most important person in Micky’s story.

Paramount has used a MPEG-4 AVC encode to reproduce the image. Color quality is excellent, with bold reds and more delicate flesh tones appearing realistic and well-defined, and black levels are consistent. Grain is also handled excellently here, lending the movie a warm, film-like glow. Details are solid – there are some smear issues with some of the movie’s darker sequences but it doesn’t interfere with the viewing experience.

The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound mix afforded The Fighter‘s Blu-ray debut is great. Dialogue is clear, and once we get into the boxing ring, the panoramic elements of this track really open up – surrounds are utilized in more delicate sequences, but it’s not until the actual fighting in the film begins that we really get to experience the full capacity of this lossless track. Music comes through nicely, fidelity is strong, high.

English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles are included.

We get the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary: Director David O. Russell delivers an overview of the film’s structure while discussing the true-life story of the people on which the film is based, the performances of the cast, shooting locations and the usage of some of the real-life locales in the film, technical insights and discussions on the making of several scenes, scenes that were nearly cut from the film, the  themes, and more.
  • The Warrior’s Code: Filming The Fighter (1080p, 29:57): Cast and crew speak on what the film is about, look back on the true-life story that inspired the picture, and speak on the film’s themes. The piece also explores Wahlberg’s training for the role, the casting of Christian Bale and his performance, the work of the other cast members including Mickey O’Keefe playing himself, and more.
  • Keeping the Faith (1080p, 8:33): Ward and Eklund family members discuss the family history of boxing.
  • Deleted Scenes (1080p, 16:53, * titles feature optional director commentary): Meet the Sisters*, Legend of Dicky Interviews, Dicky Runs*, Dicky’s Got “Yolks,” Tease Alice, Boo Boo in the Limo*, Post Mungin Sisters Interview, Dicky Dancing*, Dicky Interview Behind Bars, Crack St. Promo, Alice Visits Dicky in Jail*, Cavity Check, Dicky Tries to Leave Prison, Post Sanchez Interviews, Dicky Makes Amends, and Dicky Mini-Doc.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 2:32).
  • DVD/Digital Copy Disc: The Digital Copy.