The Fighter is a cliched story, and it being a true story still does not stop it from being not very original. I did think it was competently made story, but I have to say for me I really was not all emotionally affected with the big fight at the end, something which did occur with all the Rocky movies for me no matter how bad they got.
Bale performance begins in the film as a rather comedic work. He portrays Dicky in a fairly flamboyantly comedic fashion. He outstretches his arms in a certain manner and carries himself in a very distinct physical fashion. He always is letting loose energy all the time a moving around, and does everything he can to more fully realize Dicky as a character. This is risky move as it can seem forced or theatrical but Bale manages to make fairly realistic and effective most of the time.
The humor he adds to the film is well handled most of the time by Bale, but I feel the film starts to exploit the comedy involving Dicky's drug addiction a bit much, since later on the film it takes a look at it in a completely realistic serious fashion. This really puts a stress on Bale's performance since he has to go in and out of seriousness and comedy with his performance. This is a rather difficult challenge and I won't say Bale fully succeeds, but no actor could really.
When the film stops making him be the comic relief Bale is very good at showing the pathetic sad side of Dicky. He always shows in the early part of the film his constant drug problems. He puts into his whole physical performance, which Bale does do quite well always showing the drug induced nature of the character. This could have been done very poorly, but Bale does it quite effectively, and I feel it enhances the other downtrodden pathetic aspects of his character rather than simply overriding them. I thought Bale also did a good job of showing the honest want of his comeback that will never happen.
After he gets off the drugs do to being arrested and being put in jail. Bale handles his characters regrets over what he does well, but I am glad he did not completely rid his character of his humor as before, even though the film stops any of the humor coming from his addiction quite abruptly. I also though Bale was quite good later in his wanting to help his brother Micky (Mark Wahlberg) achieve what he never could. Bale is given some rather cliched dialogue to work with but Bale handles it quite well nonetheless.