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The Fighter – Sony Movie Channel

Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg walk down a street together

A heavyweight true-story boxing drama. 4/5 stars

Mark Wahlberg plays boxer 'Irish' Micky Ward in this remarkable true story of a scrappy underdog who triumphs against the odds.

In early-1990s Massachusetts, Micky's career is on the ropes because of his spectacularly dysfunctional family. His elder half-brother, Dicky (Christian Bale), once a very handy fighter himself but now a crack-addicted no-hoper, insists on acting as his trainer, while their fearsome mother, Alice (Melissa Leo), serves as his manager, urged on by the brothers' six hard-cursing sisters. Micky is a punch-bag in and out of the ring, until he hooks up with feisty local barmaid Charlene (Amy Adams, cast defiantly against type), who persuades him that he has to cut loose from his family to get a shot at success.

With director David O Russell drawing out terrific, heavyweight performances from his cast, this super movie leaves the viewer reeling from the bruising drama inside and outside the ring. Bale and Leo both won Oscars and Adams picked up a nomination. Wahlberg is a lot less flashy than his co-stars, yet it's his solidly convincing performance that gives the movie its punch.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.