The MMA-themed Warrior starring Tom Hardy is out in theaters today! But does it score a knockout or fall to the wayside like so many other MMA films? 411's Tony Farinella checks in his full review!
One of the great things about reviewing films is being able to see a little film that deserves attention and being able to tell people about it. Warrior is not going to be released until September 9th, but I was lucky enough to check out an early screening of the film. To be quite honest, I was not all that excited about Warrior upon viewing the trailer for it. It looked like The Fighter in the MMA world with its plot about two troubled brothers. As the old saying goes, you canít judge a book by its cover because this film is even better than The Fighter. Itís one of the best films of the year. With its combination of heart, action, and incredible acting, Warrior is a winner.
Warrior opens up by introducing the audience to Tommy Conlon, played by Inceptionís Tom Hardy, and his father Paddy, played by grizzly veteran Nick Nolte. Tommy returns home to his recovering alcoholic father with little love for him. They have a checkered past and Tommy is not looking to forgive his father for his past mistakes. Even though Paddy is 1,000 days sober, he has a hard time believing anything from his old man. Before long, he starts to train at a local gym and impresses everyone there when he destroys a famous fighter during a sparring session. He then enlists the help of his father, a former trainer. Their relationship is strictly a business one.
Another story unfolds in the meantime that follows a physics teacher, Brendan, played by Joel Edgerton. Heís struggling to make ends meet after his daughter has heart surgery. His wife, however, is ever supportive. Sheís played by Jennifer Morrison. When the mortgage payments start to pile up, the physics teacher realizes that his salary as a teacher is not going to cut it. He decides to start fighting to get a little extra money while telling his wife that heís a bouncer. She realizes this is a lie when he comes home bloody and battered one night. Even though she is supportive and loves him to death, she doesnít want him to take another ride in an ambulance, which is exactly what happened the last time he was involved in mixed martial arts.
News starts to develop that there will be a Sparta tournament with a five million dollar prize going to the winner. It will include sixteen of the toughest and meanest MMA fighters in the world, including an undefeated Russian, Koba, played by Kurt Angle. The event will take place over two days, where a fighter will have to win four fights over forty-eight hours. This will prove, without a shadow of a doubt, who is the best and most skilled fighter in the MMA world. Both Tommy and Brendan train for this event and hope to be the winner. Tommy has his own reasons for wanting to win this tournament, while Brendan needs the money to avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy.
Warrior is skillfully made, well-acted, and features bone crunching action. Nick Nolte in particular deserves an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor for his work here. Itís a painful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful tale of redemption. Nolte has had his share of trouble in the past, so Iím sure this performance comes from a very real and very honest place. This performance is very authentic and hits all the right notes. Tom Hardy lives the part of an MMA fighter here with this performance. Heís a man of few words in the movie, and his face tells the whole story of a character that has had a rough and troubled childhood growing up. Heís believable in this role, and thatís very important. Joel Edgerton is also solid, as he looks just as shocked as the rest of us that heís surviving and thriving as an MMA fighter.
The first half hour of the film is spent building up the story and our climax, which is shot with great precision and craft by director Gavin OíConnor, whose previous work includes Miracle. Needless to say, heís no stranger to the sports world. He puts us right inside the ring and shows us all of the hard work, skill, and pain that these warriors go through. There is also nothing about the finale that is predictable or ordinary. Itís not about who wins or who loses, and you really donít know who is going to win. There is also no bad guy and no good guy here. Even the Russian Koba is not really a villain or a menace to the main characters. Yes, itís a sports film, but the outcome, the way itís filmed, and how it unfolds is anything but typical. Thatís what makes this is a great movie, not just a great sports movie.
Even if you arenít a fan of MMA, you will enjoy Warrior. Most of all, itís a great story. You will stand up and cheer when itís all said and done. Itís emotionally rewarding, a crowd pleaser, and very, very satisfying. Even though there is not a lot of competition to speak of, if any, Warrior is the also the best film about MMA. Itís only September and there are still a ton of great films sure to come out, but Warrior is one of the best Iíve seen so far. It has everything you could possibly want and more for a film of this nature. This one surprised the hell out of me. With the right promotion and word of mouth surrounding this film, itís really going to take off.
The 411: Warrior, which is rated PG-13, is just the kind of old-fashioned sports movie that has been missing from Hollywood for quite some time. The acting is superior, the story is anything but predictable, and its heart is in the right place. Itís remarkable what they were able to accomplish with really no big name actors attached to the project. Nolte is a veteran, but his name is not really a big draw. Warrior deserves to be seen on the big screen. Itís a great film to see with your buddies and have a great time with. Your girlfriend will even enjoy it as there is some humor and heart to it as well.