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A movie directed by Gavin O'Connor

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Two Brothers....Fighting For Family and Respect

  • Sep 10, 2011
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 around very familiar ground and quite frankly it is downright predictable. There is nothing wrong with sticking to a proven formula on sports movies, as long as the performances and the themes shine through. I mean to like a movie about Mixed Martial Arts, one needs to be a fan of such a sport. “Warrior” is a film built around clichés; and while those things usually never bother me, the film does get burdened a lot by those clichés going towards the final act.

Two brothers were torn apart because of their drunken father and now, the first one, named Tommy (Tom Hardy) helped his mother get away before and now is a former soldier. Tommy finds his father (superbly played by Nick Nolte) sober and religious; and Tommy is also in need of cash. Tommy was a trained fighter and wants to establish himself again with his father as his trainer. At the same moment, at the other side of town, Tommy’s brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is a Physics teacher whose luck seems to have ran out and his family facing bankruptcy. Brendan joins a fight club, unbeknownst to his sexy wife, Tess (Jennifer Morrison) at a local strip joint to earn some cash and this caused him to get suspended from his teaching job. Now, the two brothers are poised to take on all comers in a major fighting competition called “Sparta” to get a much bigger payday.

                   Tom Hardy as Tommy and Nick Nolte as Paddy "Warrior."

                   Tom Hardy as Tommy and Joel Edgertonas Brendan in "Warrior.''

                  Tom Hardy a Tommy Conlon and Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon in "Warrior."

What would one do for money or honor? Would you be prepared to do whatever it took and risk life and limb to provide for your family? I suppose the story at its core is very cliché and familiar, but we all know that sometimes, life is filled with cliché. Tommy and Brendan are both people who have their fists as the last resort to make money, and so the story is built around this area. The film is built around the idea that these characters are worth rooting for and that we should care about their sacrifices and problems. The film also incorporates several themes about family and how they were torn apart because of their drunken father.

I suppose O’Connor was able to engage me with the way he develops Brendan, as he is indeed a person worth cheering for. The man tried to do his best, him and his wife are struggling to make ends meet with their children and because of their issues (hints of today’s real estate downturn), Brendan is forced to fight once again. I mean, a family man trying to do what is best for his family proves sympathetic, much more than an ex-soldier like Tommy who needs to help out his best friend’s family (as hinted at). Tommy is a guy with a lot of anger, and blames most things to his father and his brother (this wasn’t exactly too clear). However, Brendan isn’t the better written character of the cast, Nick Nolte is the more subtle, yet powerful character whose time on screen just nearly steals the show. True, Nolte’s scenes were predictable but the way he played on the emotions behind each scene were very impressive. His is a rejected character, and yet, he handles the scenes well. O’Connor was also very careful in not making him into a pitiable character, and yet, it must be a bitch to be him.

“Warrior” does have a lot of potential, but honestly, there were several wasted opportunities around the script. The first two acts of the film were development and characterization, and while I liked the way the two brothers were given ‘personalities’ through the way they fight (Tommy is a brawler with punching power while Brendan is more of a submission specialist), Tommy wasn’t as well written or fleshed out as Brendan. I liked Tommy’s no-nonsense head-first persona, and how he does no entrance music, but his character feels hollow and quite frankly, uninteresting. The film also makes several plot missteps around his character’s development, Hardy does his best to portray him, but his performance just wasn’t supported by the writing. Edgerton then becomes the more interesting of the two, as he gains all the compassion from the viewer.

There is some freshness about the film, but it does rather drain out on its naturalistic, sensible approach after awhile. The film is very predictable, and O’Connor doesn’t hide this fact. He does a subtle misdirection as he incorporates a Russian fighting machine (played by Kurt Angle) but it was obvious from the beginning where the film was headed. I mean, the set ups for the confrontation were done well, but I had second thoughts as to how it was written. Nolte’s dramatic turn had potential, but I guess the clichés just burdened the film despite the efforts of its performers. I also thought that O'Connor's split screen shots in the training montage were unnecessary and added to its cliche.

                         Tom Hardy as Tommy in "Warrior."

                        Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon in ``Warrior.''

                        Jennifer Morrison as Tess and Joel Edgerton as Brendan "Warrior."

As for the fights, well, they were staged quite well. The action was quite engaging as the camera work was good in handling the involvement of each scene. O’Connor uses the camera to hang back at times and then pans in to make the viewer feel that he is in the cage. The fights were violent, but they weren’t exactly too bloody. While I knew who was going to be in the final encounter, I was engaged in the struggle since it did have emotions. O’Connor does take his time getting there (2 hours/ 15 minute runtime), and some areas of the film felt spotty and dragging; it threatened to damage any suspense it may have accomplished in the earlier sequences.

“Warrior” isn’t a total loss and while the film’s flaws were noticeable, it wasn’t the kind of movie that isn't hard to enjoy. There were just so many things that was easy to like, especially Nolte’s performance, and the way the two brothers clashed in and out of the cage can be engaging; there were also some key lines that was genuinely funny (compliments of the school principal and Brendan’s trainer) to make up for the somewhat sluggish pacing. The fight sequences were pretty decently shot and that last fight while predictable in set up, had a lot of narrative drama that redeemed the movie for me. It does work as an emotional action drama at the last act, but too bad, it was hampered along the way just to get there.

Timid Recommendation [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "Warrior." Poster art for "Warrior."

                                        Poster art for "Warrior."

Two Brothers....Fighting For Family and Respect Two Brothers....Fighting For Family and Respect

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September 17, 2011
You know I enjoyed this one, great review man.
September 13, 2011
I'm starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by the barrage of films based on the pugilistic arts. Too many Stallone and Van Damme films have tread this territory and recently we had "The Wrestler", "The Fighter" and "Cinderella Man".
September 13, 2011
Understood. Filmmakers tend to stick to formulas while trying to capitalize on the popularity of a sport.
More Warrior reviews
review by . September 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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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William ()
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Please "Like" Film and Movies and Keep the Economy strong....LOL!!      My Interests: Movies, Anime, History, Martial Arts, Comics, Entertainment,Cooking, Things I don't … more
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About this movie



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


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