Friday, March 4, 2011

The Fighter - Great Sports Drama

I watched 'The Fighter' last night at the 11 p.m. show at Prasad's Imax. A 11 p.m. show? Anyway they seem to have figured out that the English movie watching types can all go and watch it at this convenient time without disturbing the regular schedules. Much has been heard of this movie so I dragged myself in, yawning and all, to watch this sports drama based on a true story of two brothers in the USA - both boxers.

Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) 'Pride of Lowell', (Massachusetts) is a crack addicted, fading boxing star who once knocked down (arguably) Sugar Ray Leonard in a fight, and is dreaming of a comeback, He is currently training his younger half-brother Micky (Mark Wahlberg), a talented boxer who is launched by his family, a large extended family of 7 sisters who stay together, the father Mr. Ward (who is the only sane voice) and a domineering mother Alice who had Dicky from an earlier marriage and Micky with Mr. Ward. Alice believes she is the ebst person to manage her younger son's fledgling career and that Dicky is the right guy to train him. The family seems to live in delusional world where family thinks of impossible comebacks, is in denial of Dicky's problems with drugs and seems to believe that the documentary they are shooting is one on Dicky's comeback - when it is actually about crack addiction. Anyway, between the airheaded mother, the disjointed family and the crack addicted brother, Micky gets battered in a fight against a much heavier opponent which has been set up at the last minute, and his career is at cross roads even before it started.

Confused and angry at being set up in a fight like that merely for the money involved, Micky seeks solace from Charlene who helps him see things clearly. He has an offer where he gets paid to train and fight from an organised set up in Las Vegas. Micky decides to take up the offer, breakaway from the blackmailing family. Upon hearing this Dicky says he will organise money for training as well if Micky stays. Micky decides to give his older brother another chance. Dickey's methods of raising money consist of setting up gentlemen who pick up whores and robbing them posing as police officers - only he gets caught red handed and jailed. But not before a public brawl and a chase in which Micky also gets arrested and beaten up on his hand. In jail Dicky sees the crack addiction documentary, sees his son's face and realises that he better get his life back on track. He gives up his ways and starts training in the jail. Meanwhile Micky has decided that enough was enough and takes an offer arranged by his father to get a professional to manage him. The only condition - no family, no brother as coach. Micky agrees.

After a few initial fights which Micky wins Micky has to face Sanchez a tough opponent. He meets his brother in jail before the fight. Dicky taunts him on his lack of plan and gives him advise. Micky gets angry, thinking that his brother is not happy at his success and wants to share his success with him this way. In the fight, a severely battered Micky remembers his brother's advise just in time and in a most unlikely manner knocks out the favoured opponent. Micky is a hero.

Dicky is released. But he does not know that he has been moved out from the trainer's job as per the contract. Micky does not know that Dicky has got over his crack addiction. There is much friction as Dicky and the famly is advised to stay away. Micky tells his mother that he was also her son and she should give him and his ambitions equal priority and just Dicky's. While leaving Dicky reminds Micky that he would have won the Sanchez fight if not for his advise. Micky agrees. He is torn between his brother, his family, hi girlfriend and manager. Dicky brings about a compromise, and gets everyone together for the big fight in London. The final fight is shown beautifully and I have never felt so emotionall charged in a long time - in a different way. Sports drama normally chokes my throat up but this took me high in a very weird way. All in all a great experience.

Christian Bale is fantastic and well and truly deserves his Oscar and all recognition. He inhabits the character of Dicky completely. Mark Wahlberg is his usual self. The movie is gripping especially if you love sports and human drama. I loved the way they built the young Mickey's confusion between his family, the love between the brothers and the way the brothers overcome the odds and accept each other in the new circumstances. 'He is the pride of Lowell,' says Dicky in an emotional interview in the end. The inevitable violence is there in the fights. But on the highly recommended list surely.

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