Warrior

From a first glance at Warrior it looks like a film that’s been made a million times before (mostly coz of the many, many, MANY Rocky films). From listening to its plot it also sounds like it shouldn’t work and that it’s just another run-of-the-mill sports movie. But somehow, Warrior pulls it off…

Warrior has two interweaving plots: one is about Tommy (Tom Hardy) who unwillingly moves back in with his alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) after disappearing for 14 years. With his Dad’s help he starts to train up for a big Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournament called Sparta. Another follows Brendan (Joel Edgerton) – a teacher who moonlights as a fighter to get extra money without his wife knowing. He too decides to train up for the big fight – he needs the prize money to clear the huge debts he has. And what links these two guys?: they’re brothers who haven’t seen each other for years. And neither of them knows that the other has the same competition in mind…

These two storylines about Tommy and Brendan are cleverly kept going at the same time so we can see the struggles both brothers have to face without one overshadowing the other: the problem of forgiving your violent, drunken (although not anymore) father and reconnecting with him and the problem of having to support your family when you can’t see a way out. It’s like two films in one.

One of the main things that Warrior is memorable for is the brilliant fights. They’re well choreographed and like no other fighting style you’ve seen before (or at least I hadn’t seen anything like it before). They’re almost dance-like and are absolutely fascinating to watch. They’re also ultra violent – every punch and hit sounds real and makes you wince.

Tom Hardy is excellent as Tommy – strong and intense (again, obvs) and his scenes with Nolte are great to watch. This is also the role that will definitely cement his position as a leading male actor (before Mad Max comes out that is). Joel Edgerton is also great as Brendan – he’s tough yet sensitive at the same time: a loving family man who just happens to like a good fight.

And it’s also worth mentioning that both Hardy and Edgerton deserve all the recognition they can get for these roles after all of the hard work and hours of training they’ve put in before filming even began – they’re so bulked up that you actually believe they could do this for a living, and come out winning.

And the last main actor worth mentioning is Nick Nolte as their Dad – he brings years of hurt, pain and regret out with just a simple line or facial expression. There is also a scene later in the film that nearly had me in tears – he is that convincing (you’ll know which one I mean when you see it).

Yes, the ending is formulaic and cheesy (SPOILER: both brothers end up having to fight each other for the ultimate prize – as if you didn’t see that coming. Not least coz it was in the bloody trailer), but Warrior is so well-made and brilliantly acted that you won’t care. It’s the dramatic stories that make it work, not just the fight scenes. And the ending is worth seeing just to find out who the ultimate fighter really is…

(And look at that: I’ve only put one semi-naked picture of Tom Hardy in this post – that’s excellent self-restraint that is…).

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~ by square-eyed-geek on September 30, 2011.

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