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Vol. LXIV, No. 51
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

GEE, I’LL BET THAT SMARTS: Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg, right) is in the process of defeating an opponent on his way to becoming the light-welterweight champion of the world. In order to win the title, Ward had to shrug off the stifling control of his mother, brother and seven sisters who were unsuccessfully managing his boxing career.

The Fighter: Wahlberg Stars as Real Life “Rocky” In Inspiring Biopic

Kam Williams

Veteran boxing fans are undoubtedly familiar with the career of “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), the light-welterweight boxer from Lowell, Massachusetts who is most remembered for three memorable matches against the late Arturo Gatti. In fact, two of the boxers’ epic bouts (one in 2002, the other in 2003) were chosen as “The Fight of the Year” by Ring Magazine.

But don’t expect to see any of those classic fights in The Fighter. Instead, this biopic takes place a few years earlier than the above mentioned matches. The film features Micky’s first world championship fight in London against the division’s then reigning titleholder, Shea Neary (Anthony Molinari). Director David O. Russell (Three Kings) was more interested in recounting the problems in Ward’s personal life instead of describing the boxer’s later rise to fame.

As a result, the plotline proves particularly compelling, thanks to its examination of Micky’s angst as he wrestles with cutting the ties to his smothering family. Reminiscent of the movie Jersey Shore, except for their thick New England accents, Ward’s family is run with an iron fist by his domineering mother, Alice (Melissa Leo), who is also Ward’s business manager.

Alice has directed her other son, Dicky (Christian Bale), to serve as Micky’s trainer. But that hasn’t been working out at all because Dicky’s a washed-up boxer who’s dreaming of making his own comeback, despite a bad drug habit and regular run-ins with the law. The brothers have seven sisters who function as a Greek chorus that rubber stamps their mother’s often unreasonable demands.

After Micky meets and falls in love with Charlene (Amy Adams) he is able to summon up the courage to do something about his controlling family. Charlene is a college educated bartender who gives Micky the kind of encouragement and support that he needs. However, when he brings her home to meet his family, they proceed to badmouth Charlene with unsubstantiated gossip in an attempt to destroy the couples budding romance.

As a result of their confrontation, Micky resolves to find a capable corner man to replace his brother. His brother’s replacement ultimately helps Micky win the boxing crown in London.

The movie is a fitting tribute to Micky Ward and features inspired performances by Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Amy Adams.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated R for violence, sexuality, drug use, and pervasive profanity. Running time: 115 Minutes. Studio: Paramount Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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