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The spectacular thing about The Fighter is Christian Bale’s physique – he is starved down to half of his usual self, and looks the crack addict he plays as Dicky, the older of the Ward half-brothers. Mark Wahlberg, on the other hand, is all the pretty boy, only bulking with muscles from head to toe. The two boxing brothers apparently both had their moment of fame in real life, the older one when Sugar Ray Leonard tripped fighting him and stumbled to defeat, and the other one when actually conquering the World Championship title of some federation or other by bringing on some crazy strategy – and despite his family that is just over-the-top lunatic.

The performances of both Bale and Wahlberg are impressive, even though I generally do not like Bale, here he delivers exactly what is needed, a slightly hysterical, always delusional crack addict who cannot let go the one moment in life in which he found glory, even though it was all fake glory, and everybody else came out of it much better than he himself (there is a nice scene where Dicky Ward is trying to get into touch with Leonard, still a superstar, who clearly has little memory of this “great defeat”).  The fanatics behind the scenes of boxing, a group of people you would not want to meet in a dark alley in general, have been shown before, comprehensively in “Rocky” and “Raging Bull”, but also so many other movies. One interesting aspect about The Fighter is that the professional entourage is oddly quiet and restrained, not very big on talking, just doing their thing – this seemed a more realistic approach to these backyard warriors, just getting their job done, getting the boxers fit for the fight, and then carrying on. “The Fighter”adds the sibling relationship, and does it with a very good script that keeps up the tension despite limiting the fighting scenes to a necessary minimum. Those scenes, when they come, are very well done, and Wahlberg seems to have practiced quite a bit of punching when preparing for the film. Enough glamour and drama to make a gripping movie, enough realism and grit to make an interesting one.

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