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A movie directed by Gavin O'Connor

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  • Sep 1, 2011
Oooh and Aaahs rang out across the theater during almost every fight seen. The audience cheered and applauded during all the high points of the movie, and had I turned around I'm sure there would have been some grown men fighting to hold back the tears. The movie hits on all the right points and is an impressive piece of work. 

The first thing you need to do as soon as you walk into the theater is suspend possibility over some of the events that take place. Suspend the fact that two nobodies could just walk into a 16-man tournament with a grand prize of 5 million dollars. While one brother enters as an internet sensation which doesn't usually work out, the other is a late minute addition because a trainer put in a good word. Once you ignore that people can just enter hugely marketed tournaments rather than finding other more proven fighters you'll be able to enjoy the movie a little more. 

The movie opens on Tommy played by Tom Hardy showing up at his father's door after a 14 year absence. His brother Brendan played by Joel Edgerton lives by Philadelphia and is now a teacher raising a family with his high school sweetheart. All three men have not said a word to each other for years, in a backstory that slowly reveals itself during the course of the movie. They do not force the details to come out but rather they reveal themselves naturally, which is a credit to the writing staff. Some information though must be inferred as a family, with what one can assume is a dark past, would probably not vocalize their problems in a casual confrontation. It adds to a realism behind the family dynamic and allows the mind to wander on just what this father, played by Nick Nolte, did to his family that led to all this. Also leading to the realism is the striking similarities between Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy, I'd be lying if I said I didn't confuse the two actors during the first half of the story, they really do look like brothers. 

The first half of the movie is full of family dynamic minced in with a sliver of MMA fighting, just enough to keep your interest until the second half which is full of MMA fighting mixed in with the loose ends of the story. The choreography and camera work reels you into the cage. Despite knowing how the movie ends up, having seen movies like this before and the trailers that actually tell you, you find yourself bobbing and weaving gripped to the edge of your seat for the outcome of the fight. That is not to say the fighting was the only good part of the movie, quite the contrary the story is gripping and filled with dark realism that will attract the audience to the story and force them to care about the outcome. 

Gavin O'Connor not only directs the film but is also the movie's producer and writer. With a lot at stake he does not disappoint. His past work in Miracle and to a lesser extent Pride and Glory no doubt helped him craft his story properly with a mixture of sports and family ties that are motifs in his other movies as well. He spends a lot of his time and effort around his characters giving equal time and sympathy to each brother. From the director's chair he is able to get the most out of all of his male leads and his supporting cast.

Hardy is a beast in the movie and looks like he is always ready to pounce or go postal on anyone who would dare enter a ring with him. His persona reminds me of Goldberg for all my wrestling fans out there. He is impossible not to like inside the ring, outside he keeps everything bottled up and it impressed me that Hardy could capture the persona of man like this. He churns out a nuanced performance filled with gaffes and ticks that may look out of place, but that is an accurate portrayal of a man afraid to reveal himself. While Hardy is a dark and brooding figure, he plays the perfect counterbalance to Edgerton's family focused Brendan. Brendan is more methodical and thoughtful character, and it is easier to understand his wants and needs. While you'll root for Tommy because he is a bad ass, you'll want to support Brendan because he's a good guy and deserves something to go his way. Past his prime, the physics teacher relies on skill and technique while Hardy is all power and fury. It is a credit to O'Connor and the male leads that they are able to capture the two men's personality and personify them in their fighting styles. Both characters are well developed and provide powerful performances that help to create an emotional connection. 

Nolte's character is desperately seeking the forgiveness from his two sons for his past sins. Nolte is fantastic as a recovering alcoholic looking for a second chance, a perfect casting choice he no doubt is able to pull demons from his own past to inspire a man so desperate for redemption but unable to find it. Providing some level headedness to the family cohesion is Brendan's trainer played by Frank Gillo and Brendan's wife played by the beautiful Jenifer Morrison. While not nearly as flashy it shows where his support and levelheadedness comes from along with putting a face to what he fights for. 

It is not just the story that keeps you interested in all the fights; it is the fights themselves as well. They are brilliantly choreographed and cut. The camera angles dart all over the place; this is really a credit to the editors who put the shots together. The shots are used perfectly to capture the emotion of the fight with plenty of close ups to feel like you are inside the cage. The stakes seemed raised and the emotional toll is high. 

The hard work and consideration are impressive during both halves of the movie. The dreary scenes in Philadelphia compel you to care about the stakes laid out for the second half. The story and emotion of the fighter shines through the ring with every part of them on the line. It may or may not be an artistic tour de force but it is impossible not to care about these characters and that is something that has not been seen in the theaters for some time. A- 

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September 01, 2011
excellent review! I was immediately interested when I saw the trailers for this flick. I guess I'll have a lot of catching up to do, and considering how things are moving, I don't think I'll be able to catch up on all the movies I want to see. Thanks!
September 01, 2011
This movie should receive a number of Academy Award nominations. Let's see what the public thinks.
September 01, 2011
That would be great, but it is really early in the season to think that. The public is gonna love it which is why they are doing sneak previews across the country to get the hype started.
September 01, 2011
Wow--what a great write-up; this movie sounds pretty impressive and is on my to-watch list. Thank you for sharing!
September 03, 2011
More Warrior reviews
review by . September 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Two Brothers....Fighting For Family and Respect
The rise to popularity of Mixed Martial Arts have inspired several movies such as the mediocre “Never Back Down” and the below average “Fighting”. “RedBelt” was more about Jiu-Jitsu even though it had themes taken from MMA. Well, director Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior” would remind us more about “The Fighter” and “The Wrestler”, while being wrapped around a family drama that focuses on sibling rivalry. The film is built …
review by . December 02, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   The weirdest sensation I have when watching a movie is feeling cheated. Feeling like the movie begs for me to invest in anything that happens on the screen. Call me a cynic but I don't like movies that rely on these cheap tricks and Warrior does exactly that. It's the most predictable film of the year mostly because the cliches keep flowing faster than Twista's rap cyphers. What's even more disturbing for me is that after all the misses and the futile mess we witness, …
review by . September 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         It’s only in part that Warrior hits all the predictable notes. Let’s face it, sports dramas all tend to be constructed the exact same way. It’s really a matter of the discordant notes, the ones that ring so falsely that they’re like sandpaper to the ears. Here is a movie that seems almost completely out of tune. It’s so unfocused and implausible that it suggests a total lack of faith on an audience’s intelligence. …
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About this movie



Movies, Sports, Drama, Mma, Review, Julian Left, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Warrior, Gavin Oconnor, Joel Edgerton, Kurt Angle


Director: Gavin O'Connor
Genre: Action, Drama
Release Date: 9 September 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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