Plot – The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament – a path that puts the fighter on a collision course with his estranged, older brother.
Director – Gavin O’Connor
Released – 2011
At first glance, you may be forgiven for expecting Warrior to be just another sports-drama, filled with the same tropes you’ve seen hundreds of times before, especially when it comes to films that centre on fighting, however, these expectations turn out to be wrong and you’ll be treated to a powerhouse of rising emotions, coupled with involving drama and beautifully shot action sequences. Despite almost every sports cliche popping up during the film, Warrior is crafted so expertly that the balance manages to not only entertain but leave the audience immensely satisfied.
Written & directed by Gavin O’Connor, who manages to perfectly balance the growing drama with brutal MMA sequences both in the writing and imagery. The cinematography is on the movies best features, making excellent use of camera angles to immerse you into the story while the editing and paces fit the never say die attitude of both brothers. For someone who doesn’t normally watch any fighting, the scenes inside the cage are especially good to watch, placing you at the centre of the action while making sure you are able to see, hear and feel every move and emotion the fighters go through.
When it comes to the performances, Warrior features a stellar cast of seasoned professionals, with the central three of Edgerton, Hardy and Nolte all doing a fabulous job in their complex and well-written roles. Edgerton is the family man/teacher struggling for money and of the three is the most stable, Hardy, on the other hand, is perfect as a man finding it hard to transition back to civilian life due to the horrors that he witnessed while serving in Iraq, while Nolte completes the trio in an intensely emotional performance as their father.
Above all, I found one of the most interesting aspects of Warrior is the lengths it goes to, to flesh out the characters and themes in a manner that feels sincere. The first half of the story beautifully develops each mans motivations and sets the groundwork perfectly for the more action-heavy second half and making it impossible to choose who’s side you’re on and makes it so you don’t want either brother to lose.
Overall, Warrior is a prime example of a film that even if you’re not normally a fan of the sport in question, through a combination of superb writing, direction and acting, you can become invested in the story and deeply care about what happens to the characters.
If you liked: The Fighter, Reel Steal, Rocky