The Fighter comes to Region A-locked US Blu-ray complete with a near-perfect 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.4:1. Although the style may vary, detail is excellent throughout, whether it’s the dingy apartment full of junkies, or the stunning ringside footage – which really does put you there, in an almost too good for fiction, documentary kind of way. There is a fine layer of grain, but it is often almost imperceptible – particularly during said fight scenes. There’s absolutely no sign of any digital tinkering, defects or edge enhancement; and yet the image retains consistent, flawless clarity without a moment of softness. The colour scheme is actually quite broad – made more so when the fighters enter the ring, with the bright red gloves and blue mat – but retains a remarkably realistic and authentic rendition of all the exteriors, however dilapidated or drab. Black levels are excellent, and this image is damn near perfect, let down by perhaps only a tiny bit of banding, but otherwise impossible to fault.
On the aural front The Fighter comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which does a fantastic job of bringing this biopic to life. Predominantly a dialogue-driven affair, all the various accents and intonations come across extremely well, clearly and coherently, largely emanating from the frontal array. Atmospheric effects range from the sputtering cars and background TV chatter, to the furore of the ringside crowd, really putting you in amidst the action – and of course the punishing body blows can be felt thundering through the surrounds, with a nice low end resonance that makes them all the more authentic. The score is populated by boisterous song tracks, totally in line with the proceedings, and these give the surrounds – and rears – even more to do, again engaging the LF channel for support. Overall it’s an impressive, demo-quality affair that competes with the video in terms of near-perfect excellence.
Director David O. Russell provides an interesting commentary for the movie, explaining both the more technical aspects of the filming schedule and production, as well as – arguably more importantly – some intriguing revelations about the real boxing brothers, their family and the desire to portray them authentically. He discusses the attention to detail: the accents, shooting in the actual locations, and the movie’s themes of atypical redemption; as well as obviously spending some considerable time taking you through the actors, their backgrounds, performances and what they brought to the project. We also get plenty of insight into the scenes and story arcs that were cut, as well as those that nearly didn’t make the final cut. Overall fans will find that this thoroughly enhances the movie experience.
The Warrior’s Code: Filming The Fighter is an extensive half-hour making-of documentary, which plots out the basic story of the movie, and then takes us through the various elements that came together to see it fully realised. We get plenty of insightful cast and crew interview snippets, which further expand on the lengths that the likes of Wahlberg and Bale went to bring their characters to life, but the most interesting bits tend to involve the real-life individuals, from the two brothers and their families, to the police chief / trainer who actually played the part of ‘himself’ in the movie.
Keeping the Faith takes a further 9 minutes to hear more from the brothers and their family themselves, how boxing has affected – and driven – their lives, and what it means to them.
Here we get 17 minutes of extra footage, split into 16 scenes. Those who really appreciate just how great Christian Bale was in this movie will be pleased to know that’s there’s plenty more from him amidst these extra scenes, some of which come with optional director’s commentary to explain why they were cut. Well worth checking out.
Finally there’s a Theatrical Trailer to round off the disc, as well as a second disc which sports a DVD/Digital Copy.
Covering well-trodden ground – an underdog fighter struggles to find success both in and out of the ring – The Fighter stands apart not in its realistic fight scenes, or even in Mark Wahlberg’s admirable commitment to becoming utterly convincing in the role or real-life Irish boxer Micky Ward, but actually in a trio of superior supporting performances led by Christian Bale. Amy Adams and Melissa Leo break tradition to play the powerful ladies in the Ward fighter family, but it’s Bale who goes above-and-beyond, challenging once again the true definition of method acting, and simply becoming the colourful real-life character of Dicky Ekland, Micky’s half-brother, once a notable boxer, and the hero of the town, but now just a destructive crack addict. Just like you’ll watch Black Swan for Natalie Portman, or The King’s Speech for Colin Farrell, The Fighter is truly unmissable because of Bale’s contribution, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he deserved that Best Supporting Actor Award.
On Region A-locked US Blu-ray The Fighter comes to life with an excellent video presentation, and an almost equally impressive lossless audio track, as well as a healthy selection of all the most important extras; all of which should be more than enough to please fans of the films. If you are one, I’d recommend a blind-buy, and if you generally like your boxing movies – from Raging Bull to Ali – then you should definitely check out this new entry. Don’t think it’s just restricted to fight-fans, however, as, despite its somewhat predictable boxing narrative, The Fighter relies on its performances to transcend an otherwise fairly standard boxing biopic label, breaching its genre restrictions, and allowing it to become a compelling, solidly directed tour de force drama in its own right. For that – and for Bale – it comes highly recommended.
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