I assume audiences skipped out on WARRIOR because they were sick of Hollywood’s obsession with boxing/fighting. Or maybe general audiences just don’t know enough about MMA fighting to want to see it in a movie. Or maybe Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton aren’t big enough stars yet to fill theater seats. Whatever the reasons WARRIOR failed at the box office, it’s not because the film wasn’t spectacular, because it had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.
Hardy and Edgerton play Tommy Riordan/Conlon and Brendan Conlon respectively. They’re two brothers that had to go their separate ways to escape the wrath of their alcoholic father (Nick Nolte). When they reunite years later, they both end up entered into a winner-take-all MMA fighting competion known as Sparta. Both of them grew up fighting and wrestling for a living and both were trained by their father. Although Tommy is filled with hatred for just about everyone, he enlists the help of his father to train him for Sparta, while Brendan seeks out a friend and successful trainer in Frank (Frank Campana). Of course, they both take their different styles into the ring, on a collision course to the championship, where they have to face each other.
Although it’s easy to pass this off as another boxing/fighting movie, it would be a grave mistake to skip this because you think you’ve seen it before. Putting the wonderful story aside for a second, the fighting scenes alone are a reason to see this film. All of Tommy’s fights are stand up and scream worthy, while Brendan’s fights are more Rocky-like in that they drag on and build the intensity. The advantage director Gavin O’Connor had by having two heroes is that he could showcase virtually every way to win a fight. We were rooting hard for both brothers and we wanted to see both of them win. But even I was surprised by how much fun it was to watch the two brothers compete. I also loved the fact that they were competing in an MMA tournament as opposed to a standard boxing/karate tournament. That heightened the intensity and gave them more options when it came to showcasing the fights.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the two brothers were played by two of the best young actors working today in Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. One thing about Tom Hardy is that any time he’s on the screen, he commands it so effortlessly that you can’t help but like him. And Joel Edgerton is so talented that he easily pulls off the more demanding, dramatic scenes with ease. Throw in another outstanding performance from Nick Nolte as the recovering alcoholic father and the film is instantly elevated to something much more than just another boxing/fighting movie.
If you missed WARRIOR at the theaters, then I highly recommend blind-buying the film on Blu-ray. It’s one you’ll want to watch again as soon as the movie is over. It’s also one of the more uplifting boxing/fighting films we’ve seen in a while and with great performances from a top notch cast, you can’t go wrong.
Video: This is an extremely crisp transfer from Lionsgate and one of the best transfers I’ve seen from them in a while.
Audio: The audio was wonderful as well.
This film features a “Full Contact: Feature Length Enhanced Viewing Mode” which is basically where you can watch the entire movie off to the side of your screen while viewing extra features that coincide with the scenes. This is quite an amazing thing for fans of this film and is worth checking out.
Audio Commentary with Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, John Gilroy and Joel Edgerton: Although this commentary is full of interesting tidbits, you’re going to have to hang in there awhile because it does have some slow moments at the beginning and throughout.
Redemption: Bringing WARRIOR To Life (31:57): This is your basic making-of featurette with clips, cast and crew interviews and background information.
The Diner: Deleted Scene (3:02): This is another scene with Hardy and Nolte that was fairly interesting.
Cheap Shots: Gag Reel (3:58): Pretty much speaks for itself.
Brother vs. Brother: Anatomy of the Fight (11:55): Just what it sounds like and is quite interesting to watch.
Philosophy in Combat: Mixed Martial Arts Strategy (21:07): This is featurette has some MMA experts (who were also in the film) talking about the sport and how it was represented in the film.
Simply Believe: A Tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr. (13:58): This is a dedication to the Tapout Co-founder Charles Lewis, Jr.