Review: 'The Fighter' will knock you out

LOS ANGELES /*Christian Bale*/ plays Ward's older half-brother and mentor, Dickie Eklund, a once promising boxer turned drug addict. /*Melissa Leo*/ plays their domineering mother, who's suddenly got competition from /*Amy Adams*/, who plays Ward's strong-willed new girlfriend who thinks her man deserves better than what his family has to offer.

Leo is just fierce as a bear of a mother, watch out before you mess with her young. And Adams shows there is no limit to her versatility.

Bale is just sad as a faded star who wants to hang on to the only thing he really knows.

Wahlberg delivers with a one-two punch in the film. He is, at times, sadly submissive, but his dream side shows his spirit of wanting more, of wanting to be a winner, and you root for him, despite his dysfunctional family.

At times, I found "/*The Fighter*/" uncomfortable to watch. And I think it's because the members of Wahlberg's movie family -- with the exception of his dad, played with subtlety by Jack McGee -- are either creepy or mean: the bully mother, the addict brother, and several sisters who couldn't be portrayed any trashier.

However, we need those perspectives to help drive the story and they should make you cringe. In the end, "The Fighter" knocked me out. I highly recommend it.

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