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Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Fighter (2011) Movie

I went to bed abt 3am on Sat morning after meeting with a friend I hadn't met with for more than a year. I have been so jet lagged that by 5pm on Fri, all I wanted to do was go home and sleep, which I did until he rang me at 730pm to say that he was already at where we had arranged to meet. Oops. Fortunately it was close by and I took 15 mins to get there. And we sat there eating and drinking till almost 11pm...when one is having a good time, one tends to forget the time I guess. So anyway I slept the whole if sat away without getting up to eat even. I guess it is true that the older one gets, the harder it is for the body to recover. Maybe the lack of exercise since July has also quite done me in and I think it is time for a lifestyle overhaul.

Anyway, this meeting with my friend reminded me somehow of the first movie I caught on the 18hr non-stop flight back from New York. It was one of the recommended movies in the in-flight entertainment magazine and it turned out to be a rather unforgettable movie which is all the more remarkable because it is based on a true story. The Slog Reviews: 10/10. The movie is more than just one of those rags to riches, beating the odds to rise to the top boxing movie. What makes this movie unique (to me at least) is its exploration of family bonds and how these shape one's life and eventually one's destiny.

Dickie who is the lead's younger brother is a legend in their town for having knocked down Sugar Ray. He teaches Mickie all he knows about boxing and their mother is their manager. However, she and Dickie gets Mickie into a particularly bad fight where he not only loses but is beaten up badly. Mickie seeks comfort in the arms of his new gf who is a college dropout and bartender but who genuinely cares about Mickie. He moves in with her and stops boxing. His mother is furious and confronts her when Mickie introduces her to his family. This girl holds firm to her position and when the mother asks Mickie angrily if he is going to let his mother be spoken to this way , he replies that what his gf said is true- that Dickie is a crackhead who fails to turn up for his training and all he has been getting into are bad fights where he loses and is beaten up. Mickie chooses the shot at a better life he is given by a new manager and accepts the condition imposed by this manager and his gf that he will not let his mother and Dickie play any further role in his boxing career.

When Dickie hears that, he devises a plot to impersonate a police officer and extort money but is chased by the real cops one day when trying to pull off this stunt. Mickie is having dinner with his gf and family when someone bursts into the restaurant to tell them that Dickie is being beaten by the cops. He rushes out and when his Gf tries to stop him he shoves her away, hard enough for her to tumble to the ground. While trying to stop the cops from beating Dickie , he gets his hand brutally broken. Dickie is sent to prison and Mickie goes back to his Gf. He makes a promise to her he is fine with letting his family ruin his life and he makes the same promise to his new trainer.

When Dickie is released he goes back to the gym where Mickie is training. Mickie tells him he can't train anymore with him. Dickie is hurt and disappointed and turns away. Their mother screams at Mickie he would not have won his last boxing fight if not for what Dickie taught him. Mickie admits this is true but says he would not have won the last fight either without his present trainer. When his gf reminds him he had made a deal with her, he replies he wants his family too and she tells him this is not part of the deal, to which he replies what is so wrong with wanting my family! She is for obvious reasons very disappointed with Mickie - at that moment I perfectly empathize with her feelings of hurt, betrayal and disbelief. It's like how could you break your promise to me when the intent behind the promise is to benefit you and for your own good! And like I did before when someone I knew made empty promises he later dishonored, she turns away from him and leave him.

Dickie who is witness to this exchange then picks up the welcome cake his sisters have baked and walks to the crackhouse he used to go. Despite his friends' exhortations to join them, he resists successfully the temptation to go in and goes to look for Mickie's gf. He swears to her that he will stay clean and turn over a new leaf and manages to persuade her to give Mickie and him a chance. At this moment Mickie also turns up at her house and they reunite. Mickie tells Dickie to go get his manager back too which Dickie does. The movie ends with Dickie winning a title fight with his family, new trainer and gf all behind him.

I think I like the movie so much because it depicts how our family may want the best for us in their own way but that way may not necessarily be the one that is successful or even right. But it doesn't change the fact that they are family and such blood bonds are not easily broken. I also like the movie cos it shows how it can take just one person's genuine love and care for another to turn that person's life around, to give that person courage and strength to go against all he has ever known or believed in, to choose a better life for himself.

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