Bottom Line: Puts up more than just a few good fights.
Directed by: Gavin O’Connor
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy
When it comes to boxing and wrestling, the sports genre is just like any other genre, meaning it has had the good (ROCKY), the bad (NEVER BACK DOWN), and the ugly (MILLION DOLLAR BABY). This being such an endearing film, it is surely one of the best sports films since the first ROCKY film, 35 years ago. WARRIOR tells the authentic story of two brothers: Tommy (Tom Hardy), an ex-Marine and former wrestler returning home for training with his alcoholic father Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), and Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a boxer-turned-teacher. They both are involved in a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) championship, the former to rise to championship, the latter to work his way out of a financial crisis.
These days, Hollywood seldom fails to convince its audiences that they will film nothing but two hours of beatdowns and call it a film. WARRIOR clearly begs to differ. It maintains a fascinating story, countless poignant scenes (many that guarantee a viewer’s eyes to well up with tears), well-rounded characters, and even a few quotes worth remembering. (Apparently, “Feel the Beethoven” is the new “Eat lightning, crap thunder.”) Not only is this film fully inspired, it pays mention and witty reference to its opponents from the past. In one scene, for instance, a boxer passing by jokes to one of the Conlon brothers, “Hey there, Rock. What’s the matter? You leave Mick and Paulie at home?” (an allusion to ROCKY, if that for some reason is not obvious from the context).
That certainly is not to say that the fight scenes in this film aren’t great. If anything, they are some of the most well-done I’ve ever seen. Not just are the brawls supported by power, per se, but the thorough plot of the film makes them fifteen times better—that is to say, more attention- and emotion-grabbing. As the film nears its end, these scenes grow more and more watchable and engrossing, eventually serving as a countdown for the shockingly irresistible final fight.
To say that WARRIOR is just another fight film is a preposterous understatement. Whether or not it goes down in history as one of the greatest films of the 21st century (which is likely to begin with), it will certainly be nominated for a few Academy Awards for its next grand competition at the forthcoming Oscar ceremony. A cinematic champion.