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Warrior

Warrior

What She said:

She

In the grand tradition of sports flicks, Warrior is about overcoming your hardships to win it all.  In this case, the movie centers on two brothers, Brendan and Tommy.  Both of them have fallen on tough times, although their lives have followed different paths to get where they are.  Tommy left home with his mother when he was a teenager.  Mom later died, and he nursed her through our final days.  In the meantime, Brendan chose to stay with the family’s abusive father, Paddy (Nick Nolte).  He moved on to a quiet suburban life near Philadelphia, but he and his wife cannot make ends meet and face bankruptcy and foreclosure.  There is much division between the brothers and their father.  But now both are interested in fighting their way to become champion of Sparta, this big $5 million purse mixed martial arts competition. 

The movie follows both brothers on their path to Sparta.  Tommy is a bit of a psycho, and I’m pretty sure he’s an alcoholic, which seems to run in the family.  Brendan is void of major vices, but also is clearly not as talented as Tommy.  He’s always been the underdog, and has a big heart, but there’s a ton of pressure on him to win because his family’s livelihood is at stake.  There’s lots of fighting, both in and out of the octagon, and plenty of tearful eyes.  Emotions are all over the place in this movie, particularly between Tommy, Brendan, and Paddy.  Regarding the fight sequences, I wish that real MMA fights were so entertaining.  I mean, some MMA fights are good, but in this movie, all these guys are ridiculously talented and pull off top notch moves that normally don’t work.

The movie is shot with gritty camerawork, some of the color stripped away and with shaky hands.  It’s supposed to make us feel like we’re there.  I found it a bit annoying, but effective.  The film is overall pretty well acted.  Nick Nolte got a little over the top, and I had trouble at times understanding what he was saying.  But Tom Hardy (Tommy) and Joel Edgerton (Brendan) were both good.  There’s a certain amount of cheese to the film, even if it tries not to have it.  The problem is that it does follow the standard formula of sports movies.  Even so, it’s still an interesting film, albeit a little long.

Thumbs mostly up.


 

What he said:

He

Is it really possible for a movie about grown men beating the hell out of each other in a cage make you feel some genuine emotion? That’s what Warrior attempts to do.

Warrior

Warrior is the story of a broken family. It follows estranged brothers Tommy and Brendan. Tommy (Tom Hardy) is a man of mystery. He pops back up in his hometown of Pittsburgh after being gone for many years. The only thing that is clear is he appears to have a substance abuse problem, as he sits on his father’s doorstep popping pills and washing them down with a bottle of booze. This is the first his father has seen him in years. Brendan (Joel Edgerton) seems to have his life a little more together. He’s a high school physics teacher,  and has a family he loves very much. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his own problems though. He is very behind on his mortgage payments and the bank is on the verge of taking his house.

This backs him into a corner, so he has been fighting in amateur MMA bouts to earn some extra cash. He told his wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) that he took a second job as a bouncer, but he has been really been fighting. His cover his blown after he comes up looking a little more beat up than a bouncer should one night. She is not happy about this revelation. Brendan has tried this route before and found little success. He was an average fighter who eventually gave it up for a more traditional lifestyle. However, the recent hardships and financial strain forced him to take it up again. Things get even worse when he is suspended from his teacher job when the school board learns of his second job. So, this forces him to return to fighting full-time, which displeases Tess even more then when she thought of it as a part-time gig. He seeks out the help of an old friend who owns an MMA gym. The goal is to fight in a bunch of amateur bouts until something better pops up.

Meanwhile, Tommy has joined a local MMA gym in an attempt to stay in shape, and maybe earn a few extra bucks as a sparring partner for the gym’s fighters. Things take a dramatic turn though when he knocks out one of the fighter’s he is helping train. This gets the owner’s attention and he wants to train Tommy, as well as enter him in a huge MMA tournament in Atlantic City. Tommy has formed a very uneasy alliance with his father Paddy (Nick Nolte). Paddy wasn’t the best father in the world, but he was an excellent wrestling coach and played a big role in Tommy’s earlier success as a wrestler.

Oh, I forgot to mention that after a great deal of success on the amateur circuit, and a lucky break, Brendan is also fighting in the same tournament.

Warrior

Warrior is loaded with some ass-kicking action, but it’s not really an action movie. Much like the Rocky series, Warrior is a story about people. The fights are certainly entertaining, but they’re a vehicle for the story. This isn’t an action/adventure flick, this is a drama, and a good one too. I really liked this movie. It is a modern Rocky, but differs enough from it with the whole torn family aspect of the story. Neither brother spoke to their father until the events of the movie. They also haven’t seen each other since they were in their teens. It’s the definition of a dysfunctional family. You see, Paddy was an alcoholic, in addition to being physically abusive. This created issues with his kids. He is a recovering alcoholic, but that doesn’t mean his children forgive him. Tommy also has a beef with his brother. Tommy has a beef with life in general to be honest. There are some truly sad moments between all of them that feel very real thanks to some excellent performances. There is also some really uplifting stuff at times too. There are a lot of different emotions going on here. The movie lays the emotion on thick, but like Rocky, it really worked for me.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on November 20, 2012.