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Film Review: The Warrior

09/11/2011 05:09AM ● Published by Wendy Sipple

A family crushed by an alcoholic father is the central storyline to The Warrior. The son, Tommy, seeks his father's help, after being estranged for 14 years, to seek help his father's help to train for an MMA fight called Sparta (the biggest fight event the world has ever seen). Brendan, Tommy’s brother, also begins training to be a fighter, too. For Brendan it is a way to make money in an effort to save his home from foreclosure. As an ex MMA fighter, Brendan trains with his former trainer and that trainer's star fighter. When the star fighter breaks his knee Brendan becomes the unlikely sub. At the main event the brothers fight their way to the top, while they also hash out their family issues.

The Warrior is an extremely well made and well acted film. Director Gavin O’Connor did a great job not only with balancing the family drama, but also in capturing the brutal nature of the MMA fights. O’Connor, along with cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi, staged all of the shots well for the action, and I loved the decision to shoot the film with grain, giving the movie a gritty look and feel.
The movie also boasts several incredible performances. Nick Nolte was terrific as the alcoholic father. He has an imposing presence and yet can convey the desperation of a person who knows their shot at redemption may have passed him by. Joel Edgerton plays the part of the “Rocky” style underdog well as Brendan. He is a very likable family guy and a stark contrast to his younger brother played by Tom Hardy. Hardy’s portrayal of Tommy is amazing. He plays a human version of fury and his fight sequences are simply savage. Hardy is a frightening man in this film. Tom Hardy as an imposing force captured in this movie has me very excited to see him as the main villain in the next Batman movie!
The Warrior hits all the right notes and builds its drama effectively right up until the last fight. Without giving away the ending, I felt the movie took all the easy choices to give itself a happy ending when the right choices would have been the hard ones. It was frustrating to watch a gritty movie that had built the stakes for each character so high only to have the ending sell out in a way. Those who enjoy a happy ending will like what they see, but sometimes I like to see a movie brave enough to make a hard choice and stick to it. I wish The Warrior had been one of those films.
Regardless of my reaction to the end, The Warrior is a tremendous film. It will appeal to those who don’t like MMA fighting as well (I don’t like MMA). Those who do like the MMA will be glad to know the film presents its sport well. The fights were intense and savage in a way that I have never seen in a film. Although The Warrior was never as good as the original Rocky, it is certainly in its league. Those who like sports movies, and boxing/fight movies in particular, will be very happy with The Warrior.
Films like The Warrior – Raging Bull, Rocky and The Wrestler
 


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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