Over the past several years, mixed martial arts has seen growth in popularity. Not surprisingly, we've seen a few movies about the sport in an attempt to capitalize on its new mainstream appeal. "Warrior" is the latest attempt in this growing line of films and only time will tell if this mixed martial arts version of "Rocky" accomplishes what it set out to be.
Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) is an ex-marine who has had an extremely tough go in life. He unexpectedly returns home to see his father Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), who is a former alcoholic approaching 1000 days of being sober. Even though he can not get past the pain and anguish that his father caused in his life, Tommy asks Paddy to train him for an upcoming MMA event called SPARTA. This event is a winner-take-all tournament to determine the best middleweight in the world. The winner gets 5 million dollars.
While Tommy is training under the tutelage of his father, his estranged brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is struggling to keep his home as his family continues to fall into to debt. Brendan also sees this same tournament as an opportunity to save him, his wife (Jennifer Morrison), and kids from the financial problems they have. With both brothers having more than legitimate reasons to fight, this may set them on a collision course both physically and emotionally, but they also need to worry about Koba (Kurt Angle). The man received as may the best Mix Martial Artist ever.
"Warrior" was not a good movie, it was a great movie. This is a must-see for anyone who loves movies. Although cheesy at times, it is full of heart and contains even more substance. This movie tugs at your emotions as it focuses on issues that can tear a family apart. When speaking of emotions in a movie, I can usually look to the characters to explain my point. In this film, the whole movie was emotional to the core. As the movie progresses, you see the full story unfold and we find out how things got the way they are among the people in the film. They touched on almost everything you possibly could when speaking on tragedies and hardships that could go on in a family.
The fights were amazing and much better than actual MMA fights. They did kind of remind me of a few of those Pride FC matches that I watched back in the early part of this century. With the failures and the overall story combining with proper casting, it's clear to see that they put all they could into this film. Beside being somewhat happy at times, some parts towards the end being expected, Edgerton's accent slipping out a few times, there's not much to complain about. There is one more complain, but I will not discuss it since it might spoil a part of the movie for those who want to see it.
Tom Hardy does a good job of playing the little brother with loads of anger issues and Edgerton holds his own as the middle class father of two trying to keep things afloat. Nolte plays the third, but perhaps the most critical character as he provides the chemistry between his character and the other two that makes everything stick together. He's more than believable as the remorseful father trying to piece things back together with two seemingly unwilling sons that are still angry and bitter towards him. I also have to mention that I got a kick out of seeing Kurt Angle portray the MMA version of Ivan Drago, since I was a big wrestling fan years ago.
Despite the negative feelings the three main characters have for each other and the film being based on a destroyed family structure and the problems that result from it, this is actually a legitimate feel good story. It was somehow able to be hard, cold, and heartwarming at the same time. "Warrior" is probably the best film I've seen so far this year. I do not think you're going to find too many people who dislike this movie if you tried. The end of the summer movie season looked like it was going out with a whimper, but "Warrior" made sure that did not happen.
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Film Length: 139 minutes
Release Date: September 9, 2011