Warrior tells the story of two estranged brothers and their recovering alcoholic father. Over the years they have followed their own paths. One brother joined the military and the other became a dedicated family man and a physics teacher. But one thing has stayed a constant in their lives and that is their skills in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Now both of the brother's needs force them to compete in a huge MMA tournament with a massive prize pot. Will this bring them closer together or tear the family further apart?
One thing that should be made clear, this is first and foremost a fighting movie. Every cage fighting scene is brutally realistic. For me, this was the first film I had seen from Gavin O'Connor. And he does an outstanding job. Not only does he direct and co-write Warrior but, he produces the film too. The result is an incredibly detailed and realistic MMA fighting film. But, surprisingly he delivers an emotionally gripping movie with a powerful message.
It's fair to say, that the big thing that works so well with this film is the fantastic selection of lead cast members. Nick Nolte was nominated for an Oscar for his incredible performance. Nolte's portrayal of the father who is desperately seeking redemption is every bit as brutal as the fight scenes. Tom Hardy is amazing as the younger brother, full of rage and anger. But for me, the always brilliant Joel Edgerton edges it with his excellent performance. The tender subplots with his wife played by Jennifer Morrison tie in perfectly.
Another surprise is that there is no clear favorite. Yes, the older brother does seem to have his life more sorted. However, this balanced story provides a sympathetic view of each of the main characters. Tommy's anger is easy to understand and we can also feel the desperation of Brendan who faces losing the family home. The end result is that you root for them all in different ways.
Here's the bottom line, Warrior is at times extremely violent. If you are not comfortable seeing men beat each other to a pulp in a cage then it's probably best to give this film a wide birth. However, as far as fighting films go, Warrior is the most under-rated movie of them all. It received virtually no publicity and didn't do too well at the box office but it's great if you are looking for a fantastic inspiring movie with a powerful back story. If you haven't seen it before, then Warrior is a great find.