Mark Wahlberg as a lover and a boxer in 'The Fighter'

By Tatiana Craine

Mark Wahlberg teams up with director David O. Russell for the third time to bring audiences the story of a boxer fighting against the odds (no pun intended) in “The Fighter.” The two collaborated on “Three Kings” in 1999 and “I Heart Huckabees” in 2004. Now, they’re breathing life into the dramatic real-life story of fighter Micky Ward.”The Fighter” follows Micky Ward (Walhberg) and his half-brother Dicky Ecklund (Christian Bale) as they climb their way up the professional boxing chain while dealing with intense family, relationship and emotional issues along the way.

The film boasts an all-star cast including Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee and Frank Renzulli in supporting roles. Adams gives a great performance as Micky’s stubborn and head-strong girlfriend.

The film, shot at breakneck speed in Lowell, Massachetts, is gritty and affecting yet still manages to be funny. “The Fighter” brings a vibrant and colorful side of Boston to the silver screen with as much life and reality as the very real places the film is set.

The actual Micky Ward, nicknamed “Irish,” has been enthusiastic about the decision to cast Walhberg in the main role. In other interviews, Ward has intimated that he “liked that [Wahlberg is] a local guy from Dorchester and he knew my history. He’s from the streets.” Walhberg trained for three years to get in shape for his role as a boxer, his passion for the film unrelenting and all consuming.

Both Wahlberg and Bale have received the Ward-Ecklund seals of approval, and audiences will surely agree. The two bring a sense of urgency and humanity to such a violent sport, showing that family ties and glory are sometimes more closely related than they first appear.

“The Fighter” hits theaters Dec. 10.