Fighter was shot inexpensively on video without much cinematic flair; it covers historical topics that have been addressed in greater depth in other documentaries; and it doesn't offer remarkable detective work, surprising revelations, or even a satisfying sense of closure. What it does offer is a fascinating portrait of the combative relationship between two friends, Jan Wiener and Arnost Lustig. Wiener is the "fighter" of the movie's title; he survived both the Holocaust and a Communist prison camp because he is a pugnacious man who refuses to surrender in the face of adversity. He draws the strength to survive from his anger at the injustices he has suffered; indeed, he credits his hatred of a smug Nazi collaborator with enabling him to survive his ordeals during WWI. Lustig, who was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the war, is also a survivor. However, he is more of a moral relativist and bon vivant; his personal anecdotes are often laced with gallows humor and wry observations about life, and he even describes how his father used to laugh when hearing Hitler's speeches on the radio. Lustig likes to tease Wiener about his handsomeness and ask him provocative questions about his fight to survive. He may be asking these questions because of jealousy over Wiener's physical appearance and uncompromising bravery; he may be asking them due to his own sense of guilt for joining the Communist party; or he may be asking them because he is naturally inquisitive; in any case, these questions and remarks produce a lot of tension between the two. This is bad for their friendship but good for the film, which benefits considerably from the clash between these two men's temperaments. Indeed, the main reason to watch this movie is to observe this conflict; the filmmakers found a natural, unaffected, and dramatically interesting way to examine the Holocaust through two different perspectives by letting these two men argue about it, both directly and indirectly.
by Todd Kristel review