WTF Really Happened to The Fighter?

Last Updated on October 20, 2022

David O. Russell’s The Fighter is arguably the director’s most acclaimed movie (certain more so than the recent Amsterdam). It tells the true story of boxer Mickey Ward and his older brother, Dicky Eklund, played by Mark Wahlberg and (in an Oscar-winning performance) Christian Bale. While based on a true story, you might very well be surprised by how many liberties were taken with some of the micro-and-macro details in the film while still honoring the overall legacy of the scrappy Lowell underdog and his embattled, drug-addled half-brother Dickie Eklund. To be clear up-front, most of what transpires in The Fighter genuinely occurred in how it’s depicted onscreen, with incredible efforts made to recreate the precise in-ring action as it truly happened.

However, in the interest of time and to increase the riveting dramatic stakes of Ward as a true underdog, O. Russell altered several details regarding fighters, won-loss records, weigh-ins, knockouts, and several other glaring and minute details that may have gone over casual fight fans’ heads, yet have seriously called into question the movie’s overall integrity. And that doesn’t include the spate of out-of-ring changes, mainly relating to Dickie’s delusions and self-destructive dalliances.

So let’s dive into David O. Russell’s The Fighter, which, even if it took some liberties, remains a classic in the big-screen fight genre and certainly ranks as a high point in Russell, Bale and Wahlberg’s careers. This episode of WTF Really Happened to this Movie is written by Jake Dee, edited by Adam Walton, produced by Taylor James Johnson and narrated by Steve Seigh.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Fighter and the place it holds in the filmography of all involved.

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.