Everyone loves a comeback story, especially in Oscar season, and that of the American boxer, a working class guy with busted knuckles and bruised cheekbones, is a classic. What makes David O. Russell's 'The Fighter' stand out -- or at least stand shoulder to shoulder -- with other boxing movies is its real-life subject, "Irish" Micky Ward, and its incredibly strong cast, led by Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams.
'The Fighter' is set in the '90s before Ward went pro; a boxer from the working class Boston suburb of Lowell, MA, Micky (Wahlberg) spends years being pummeled in the amateurs while being trained by his half brother, Dicky Eklund, and managed by their chain-smoking mother, Alice. Dicky (Bale) and Alice (Leo) can't let go of Dicky's former glory as a boxer who knocked out Sugar Ray Leonard, despite his ravaging crack addiction and consistent disregard for his brother's career and safety.
The last straw is when Micky ends up fighting a boxer 15 pounds heavier than him in a bout that could have had him down for way more than 12 rounds. The humiliation of his loss, his budding romance with Charlene (Adams), and support from his dad and Ward's real life friend and trainer Mickey O'Keefe (played by himself) helps Micky decide to ditch this toxic situation and find his own way to golden gloved success. Of course, it's never that simple when it comes to family, is it? Especially not when your big brother taught you everything you know, especially that good old "head body head body" move that does end up being the winning combo.