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Film / The Fighter

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"I'm the one fighting, okay? Not you, not you, and not you."
Micky Ward

An acclaimed 2010 film by director David O. Russell, based on the life of Lowell, Massachusetts boxer "Irish" Micky Ward, a major figure in international boxing from the late 1990s until his retirement in 2003.

As our story opens in 1993, Micky is a struggling boxer in a working class Lowell neighbourhood. He is perennially in the shadow of his older brother Dicky Eklund, whose claim to fame as a boxer was knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard in a single fight in the late 1970s (despite the fact that Sugar Ray got back up and won). Dicky has since fallen on hard times, becoming addicted to drugs and generally a screwup; he's being followed by an HBO documentary crew that is supposedly documenting his "comeback" (but is in fact using him to make an documentary on substance abuse). Micky, who is depending on his brother to be his trainer, is becoming increasingly annoyed with his brother and his manager-mother Alice. Micky also takes an interest in barkeep Charlene, who thinks Micky is being exploited and neglected by his family. Naturally, his family dislikes Charlene and his bitchy, overbearing mother and sisters try to keep the two of them apart.

Starring Mark Wahlberg as Micky, Christian Bale as Dicky, Melissa Leo as Alice, and Amy Adams as Charlene. Was nominated for seven Academy Awards, with Bale and Leo winning for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Not to be confused with the character class in Final Fantasy or Dungeons & Dragons.


  • '80s Hair: Micky's sisters.
  • Autobiographical Role: Micky Ward's trainer Mickey O'Keefe plays himself. So does Sugar Ray Leonard.
  • Based on a True Story
  • Berserk Button: Whatever you do... do NOT call Charlene a "skank". Ever.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: To the extent that they seem to cause Micky (and the audience) physical pain. The majority of the family is sisters, though. And they're not really a focus of the film.
  • Break the Haughty: Dicky calls Charlene out on how she acts high and mighty around everyone just because she went to college, even though she never graduated and she's just as much in the gutter as they are. Charlene just throws it right back at Dicky by reminding him that he's not half the man he (or his delusional mother) thinks he is.
  • Broken Pedestal: Dicky is this for his younger brother Micky. The movie gives a near-lampshading near the end of the film.
    Micky: You were my hero.
    Dicky: I was. I was.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Sugar Ray's reaction to being confronted by Dicky is basically "Dude, who are you?" He does eventually recognize Dicky, but his expression changes to "Dude, what happened to you?" and he beats a hasty retreat.
  • Calling the Old Man Out
  • The Cameo: Sugar Ray Leonard.
  • Catchphrase: "Head, body, head."
  • Catfight: Between Charlene and Micky's seven sisters.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Micky's One Two Punch. Lampshaded and discussed following Micky's fight with Sanchez.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Christian Bale as the twitchy, attention-seeking Dicky.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Close to 150 f-words.
  • Drugs Are Bad
  • Fanservice:
    • For the girls, shirtless and sweaty Micky; for the fellas, Amy Adams in a Black Bra and Panties.
    • The trope is actually discussed too. Micky takes Charlene out on a date to some critical darling European movie. She complains "It didn't even have any good sex in it."
  • Freakier Than Fiction: Bale seems to be overdoing it, and Wahlberg seems to be underplaying it. Then at the end we see footage of the real people they're playing and we find out their performances were in fact spot-on. In an interview, the director David O. Russell claims that he had to actually tone down Micky's sisters, as he was afraid people would think they were too over-the-top.
  • Glory Days: Dicky replays his knockdown (not "out", down) of Sugar Ray constantly. Other characters suggest it was a slip, not a knockdown.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Dicky in his prison cell.
  • Happier Home Movie: The film's opening consists of this.
  • Henpecked Husband: George Ward is regularly put down by his wife, daughters and stepson.
  • Hollywood New England: Mark Wahlberg is once again one of the only authentic Bay Staters, but the other majors mostly manage credible accents.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Micky's family is incredibly obnoxious and delusional, and tend to say some really hurtful things at the worst possible time, but that doesn't mean they don't genuinely love Micky and want the best for him.
  • It's All About Me: Dicky manages to turn every conversation into one about him (and invariably, the Sugar Ray fight).
  • Jerkass: Almost every female character except Charlene (well, his daughter wasn't bad either), and Dicky. Dicky occasionally leans toward Jerk with a Heart of Gold, though.
  • Jerkass Realization:
    • Alice has a well deserved one when Micky finally calls her out on her favoritism towards Dicky.
    • Dicky understandably has one while watching the documentary, especially when he realizes his young son could be watching it.
  • Lady Swears-a-Lot: Charlene sticks her head out the window and shouts nothing but curse words, a far cry from the squeaky clean roles that Amy Adams is known for.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "This movie isn't about Micky, it's about his screwed-up brother!"
  • Leave the Camera Running: The interview shown at the beginning and end of the movie were completely improvised by Bale, Wahlberg, and Russell.
  • Lower-Class Lout: The Eklund sisters are a shining example of New England townie trash, and anyone from the Merrimack Valley will tell you that absolutely nothing about them was exaggerated or embellished.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Micky has seven sisters and a brother.
  • Meaningful Echo: After the opening fight in which Ward is badly injured fighting in a weight class too heavy for him, the climactic fight is preceded by an official weighing that establishes that he is going to be in the appropriate class for him.
  • Moment Killer: An intended "afternoon delight" between Micky and Charlene is snuffed by Alice and her daughters showing up en masse to tell Charlene off. Charlene doesn't take their crap lying down, to put it nicely.
  • My Beloved Smother: Seriously, Micky is a saint for putting up with his mother for as long as he did.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Charlene's first words to Micky.
    "Are you just gonna stand there and stare at my ass?"
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The film ends with Ward's first title win and only mentions his true Crowning Moment Of Awesome - the legendary three-bout series with the late Arturo Gattinote  - in footnotes at the movie's end. Mark Wahlberg and David O. Russell have mentioned that they are considering making the Gatti story into a sequel.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Micky sees that one of his opponents is much, much larger than he expected, he has this reaction.
  • Only Sane Man: Micky, and to a lesser extent, George. O'Keefe also counts.
  • Opposing Sports Team: Shea Neary is, in his very brief screentime prior to the fight, established as an unsportsmanlike jerk. He cements it by refusing to touch gloves with Micky, which is more than just a snub in boxing.
  • Parental Favoritism: Alice focuses her attention on Dicky, which Micky resents.
  • Real-Person Epilogue: The Creative Closing Credits show clips of the real Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund. It becomes apparent that Bale's eccentric portrayal of Dicky was rather accurate.
  • Redemption Quest: Of a sort; Micky is looking to validate his earlier potential. Dicky has a more obvious one, though it's not in the ring.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Dicky is the red to Micky's blue.
  • The Remake: Parts of the film are based on the HBO-produced documentary High on Crack Street, which partly chronicled Dicky's crack addiction. However, quite a bit was changed between the actual documentary and the film (for example, Dicky never talked about having a comeback, didn't have an Asian girlfriend and his body type was more muscular than thin).
  • The Reveal: About halfway through the movie, Dicky learns that the HBO documentary isn’t about his comeback. It’s about his crack addiction.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Bale's performance has received so much acclaim that he's mostly talked about, when Mark Walhberg is the main star and plays the main character, while Bale is in a supporting role. Lampshaded, as seen in the Leaning on the Fourth Wall quote on the main page. Melissa Leo and Amy Adams also got more attention and praise for their performances than Wahlberg.
  • Stage Mom: Alice's business is managing her kids.
  • The Stinger: The real Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund are shown during the end credits.
  • Training Montage: Mandatory.
  • Trash Landing: Dicky's frequent escapes from the crackhouse.