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Fighter, The


Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee

Director: David O Russell

Yet another boxing movie about the underdog from nowhere who becomes world champ. And it's pretty much par for the course, with GoodFellas-style swearing, very decent boxing scenes and actors who seem to have studied On the Waterfront.

'Irish' Mickey Ward (Wahlberg), half-brother of ex-championship contender Dicky Eklund (Bale), is a 'stepping stone' for promising fighters. In other words, he almost always loses.

He also has to contend with, besides the now drug-addicted Dicky, a harridan mother (Leo) and six slatternly sisters. But a romance with bartender Charlene (Adams) helps him keep his feet on the ground, and a chance to turn his career around comes when Dicky goes to jail.

Wahlberg looks like the real deal in the fight scenes, but it's the excellent, Oscar-nominated performance by the chameleon actor Bale that takes all the honours here. Alas, the dysfunctional family isn't at all sympathetic, or even funny, just tawdry and without personality. Adams is miscast as Wahlberg's downtown girl.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Momentum. Technicolor/Colour by deluxe.
113 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 29 Jan 2011