"WARRIOR" Movie Review
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When you think of movies centered on the world of mixed martial arts, you expect a film that’s all blood, no glory. But the new flick “Warrior” changed that equation. Not only is it one of the best sports movies ever, it’s also one of the greatest films to come out this year.
Big credit goes to director and co-writer, Gavin O’Connor, the guy who gave us the 2004 hockey drama, “Miracle.” While that film was full of clichés, O’Connor was able to make an inspirational and rousing movie.
“Warrior” also has the same feel-good appeal as “Miracle,” but in order to get there, the audience must first be beaten up and battered around. Once you see the full story, you will be standing up and cheering for “Warrior.”
You know you’re watching a different type of sports movie when the first scene you witness is a quiet moment between a prodigal son and his wayward father. Most Hollywood sports movies will give you a wham bam adrenaline-fest of an opener, but not “Warrior.” It opened small and ended big.
The wayward son in question is Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) who finds himself back in the orbit of a broken family he’d given up on years ago. He returns home after fourteen years to enlist the help of his father, Paddy (the fantastic Nick Nolte).
Tommy wants his dad to help him train for Sparta, the biggest winner-takes-all event in mixed martial arts history. He has his own personal reasons to enter the fight, so does his estranged brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), an ex-fighter-turned teacher.
Tommy, the unstoppable one, and Brendan, the underdog, must finally confront each other in a face off that will have you crying tears of joy. The brothers use the cage as a form of intervention.
O’Connor, who also co-wrote “Warrior” with Anthony Tambakis and Cliff Dorman, concocted the story after years of being a mixed martial arts fan. The result is a movie that celebrates both the triumphs and the agonies of the fighters.
At the heart of the film is the question – what do you fight for? The brothers are not the only ones doing the fighting, even the supporting characters have their own battles. Nolte’s character wrestles with his own personal demons by listening to the audiobook of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.”
In the book, Ahab uses the great white whale as a form of redemption, while in the movie, Paddy is hoping that his salvation is going to come from his sons’ forgiveness. Nolte gives a subdued yet assured performance that will capture your heart.
Jennifer Morrison also gave a wonderful performance as Tess, Brendan’s wife. She supports all her husband’s endeavors except his fighting. In order for us to believe Brendan’s motivations, we must buy into his relationship with his wife.
Both Hardy and Edgerton brilliantly embodied their characters. Hardy, who is set to star as Batman’s nemesis, Bane, in next year’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” will pierce your heart as the misunderstood Tommy while Edgerton (“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”) brilliantly portrayed the underdog.
The beauty of the film is the equal attention given to both Tommy and Brendan. Each of the brothers deserves his own rousing ode to redemption. You will be forced to root for both characters.
“Warrior” is not just a movie made for the male demographics, it’s also a film that female audiences will love. Even if you don’t like mixed martial arts, you will appreciate the movie. It’s a stirring portrait of the human spirit.
RATING: “WARRIOR” GETS 4 KISSES!!!!!
Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts
An ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father, a recovered alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for a mixed martial arts tournament awarding the biggest purse in the history of the sport. As Tommy blazes a violent path towards the title prize, his brother, Brendan, a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. Even though years have passed, recriminations and past betrayals keep Brendan bitterly estranged from both Tommy and his father. But when Brendan's unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense, winner-takes-all battle of their lives.
Genres: Action/Adventure and Drama Running Time: 2 hr. 19 min. Release Date: September 9th, 2011 (wide) MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense mixed martial arts fighting, some language and thematic material. Distributors:
Cast and Credits
Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison
Directed by: Gavin O'Connor
Produced by: Gavin O'Connor, Greg O'Connor
Year of Production: 2011
Country: United States