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"The Fighter" Review: Big Heart On The Big Screen

Mickey Ward's inspirational story resonates with Massachusetts residents, and "The Fighter" is a true knockout.

For every published piece, there are twice as many stories that are thrown out. For every symphony for which we praise Beethoven, there is another that he nixed.  For every Steven Spielberg blockbuster, there are twice as many screenplays that never made it.

The same goes for a certain columnist at Wrentham Patch. So rather than subject you, the best and brightest readers, to a mediocre column, lets take this opportunity to link sports, entertainment and a truly triumphant story.

I'm talking about the story of Mickey Ward, and more so, The Fighter.  

"The Pride of Lowell" is best known for his epic three-fight series with Arturo Gatti.  Ward was a scrappy, gritty fighter whose ability to take punches was just as great as his ability to land them.

His story as a fighter alone would make for a great story.  Getting older, moving to the foreseeable end of a professional career, Ward loses a handful of fights in a row.  As a boxer he hits all-time lows, then, a few upsets later, he earns a title shot.  He wins.  He follows that up with three amazing fights with Gatti, the last earning him a seven-figure payday.

Mix in his brother, a once-promising boxer whose crack addiction brought him down.  By the way, Ward was trained by his brother.

The Fighter is more than a boxing story. It is a life story.  It is a story of drug addiction.  It is a story about dark times. It is a story of a dysfunctional family.  It is a love story.  It is a story of redemption.  It is a story of unconditional family love.

It is a local story.

Anyone who has been to Lowell or, better yet, driven through Lowell, would recognize the street, the feel, the aura of the city.  Each and every character embodies the nuances of Lowell. 

From supporting characters all the way up to the lead, every performance is a knockout, none more so than Christian Bale.

Playing the part of Mickey Ward's brother, Dickey, Bale gives an award-winning performance.  Physically and emotionally, Bale shows more in one performance than he has in everything else I've seen him do.

He captures the mannerisms and the nuances of a crack addict.  He was a loving brother who lost to addiction, but would later fight it off.  He went from self-serving and self-centered to connected family man, inspiring coach and proud older brother.

If you are looking for reasons to see The Fighter, I can give you plenty.  Beyond boxing, it is a great family story, a great redemption story, a great love story and a great local story.  Mickey Ward was the pride of Lowell, and now The Fighter can show off the pride of Massachusetts.

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