The Fighter is the story of “Irish” Micky Ward – a welterweight whose only real interest in life, appeared to be following in his older brother Dicky’s footsteps – The Fighter, from the outside, might seem like one of the long list of Boxing movies, most of which seemed predictable, and poorly written. This movie is less about the actual ring, but more about the actual sparring that goes on in this closely knit Irish family out of Lowell Massachusetts. Mark Wahlberg stars as the peaceful, most stable member of the family Micky,  whom the entire film is based on. Micky appears to be the is a complete opposite of his older brother Dicky – who is somewhat of a local celebrity in their home town of Lowell, Massachusetts. One way or another Dicky ends up in the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard, how this happens is left to the imagination. During this fight,  Sugar Ray ends up on the floor…..  some believe Sugar Ray accidentally fell, losing his footing, you can bet the people of Lowell believe otherwise. Dicky now spends his time coaching younger brother Micky, or at least the portion of time he can spare when he isn’t getting wasted at the local crack house, or the local bar. If that isn’t enough for Micky to contend with, he is also the child of a mother, who thinks he is going places thanks to her brilliant management skills, which couldn’t be further from the kind of help Micky seemingly really needs. Of course, in reality, his career is nowhere, going nowhere and he is unable to shake himself loose from either member of his family – Enter the blossoming romance,  with the feisty barmaid Charlene (Amy Adams) who suggests their might be someone in his corner who really cares after all is said and done . The joy, excitement, and entertainment of The Fighter is in the excellent acting performances. Christian Bale – of Dark Knight and Terminator Salvation –  really eats this role up, in another stunning performance. He’s a trembling, drug fueled, shell of the man he supposedly once was, yet Bale manages to make his actions believable and surprisingly sympathetic. Melissa Leo, as Micky’s mother Alice, also keeps her character’s trashy, big hair, cheap jewelry on the right side of caricature and is ably supported by Micky’s angry sisters, each as overbearing as their mother. Somewhere in between the frolic and frivolousness of Micky’s family, Wahlberg’s performance is somewhat overshadowed, nevertheless he does a considerable amount with his less pyrotechnic character. The gritty streets of Lowell, Massachusetts, which is where this true story occurred, helps give the film a neighborhood feel, everyone knows everyone, and any move that Dicky or Micky make in the ring, Lowell’s heros are celebrated by this working class, close knit community.  Considering the scripts predictable plot, there is plenty of humour laced in with the grit. The real action of this movie is the on the family front, never pulls its punches and almost always draws blood, each of Micky’s fight nights seem oddly muted and tame in comparison. If your looking for a real film about boxing, have a look at Raging Bull, it’s the comings and goings of this dysfunctional family which makes this film a winner, for within the first ten minutes the plot was in the palm of my hand.