What plagues all fighting movies is predictability. You can usually always predict how they are going to end. Some unravel in away where, although you know what is going to happen, you get so caught up in everything going on that you don’t think about it. Well, this is one of those films.
The story follows two brothers with troubled pasts. Each is desperately trying to win the biggest mixed martial arts tournament within the martial arts world for their own reasons. The story does not tell you everything at first. And I liked that. So, I won’t say any more on the plot. I would strongly recommend that you do not watch any trailers for this movie. That trailer pretty much showed the whole movie.
All the fight scenes are outstanding and very well acted. The camera angles are great and choreographed with great care. The movie really gets you into them, as well. You get nervous, excited and pumped You can almost feel every blow that the fighters give to each other. This is something that bothered me about “The Fighter” – another fighting movie that also deals with family issues. Everything was great for the most part, but the fight scenes weren’t convincingly realistic. I know mixed martial arts can be more interesting because there are more things to do, but it doesn’t matter. “Cinderella Man” (another boxing movie) has excellent fight scenes. What makes the fight scenes even better in the “Warrior” is that there is feeling behind it.
What the “Warrior” does really well is convey emotion. This is important in this type of movie. If there’s no emotion, then all the fights scenes would get boring quickly, no matter how well done they are. No emotion equals no caring for anything that happens. This movie takes time to develop its characters. The characters of both brothers, Tommy and Brendan, are developed separately in the first half of the movie. A lesser movie wouldn’t have done that. At first it felt like I was watching two different movies. It was a little weird at first, but the two separate story lines were both great. And when the stories came together, it didn’t feel forced in the least.
As I mentioned, the first hour alternated between the stories of the two brothers. You get a lot of good character development. So when the final showdown is going to start between the brothers (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s been advertised this way and you can just tell it’s going to happen), you like both of them and you don’t know who to cheer for. This is a rare movie moment where you don’t want either one of the fighters to lose. This brings complexity and feeling to the final fight. That final showdown has to be one of the best hand to hand fight scenes ever. It was well acted and staged, but everything leading up to it propelled that fight into greatness.
The acting is great throughout. Tom Hardy has really started to catch my eye. He has been good in everything he has been in, lately. This movie is no exception. He plays a guy who doesn’t show much emotion. That kind of character can get bland and boring if not acted well. Thankfully, Hardy does an outstanding job. As a side note, if you had any doubt that Tom Hardy could play Bane, then watch this movie and see if you still think that. Joel Edgerton isn’t the biggest actor around, but I still think he is good in general (you might remember him in the last version “King Arthur”). Here he gives his best performance to date. He never misses a beat. What really surprised me was Nick Nolte’s performance. Nolte is great at playing the worn out tough dad. This is a real emotional performance and nothing ever feels forced. Those three actors helped lift this movie up. The result is an ensemble of genuine performances that give the movie a great vibe. They made you believe the family struggle. Jennifer Morrison and Frank Grillo are great, as well.
Gavin O’Connor has not had the best career. The only movie he has directed that I really liked was “Miracle.” O’Conner surprised me with this movie, however. His direction is perfect. The fight scenes are staged expertly. He gets great performances form all the actors. He gets the story told in a great way. This director has definitely found his forte in making sports movies. Anthony Tambakis’ script is very good. It hits a lot of the right notes and also gets the story across in a great way. The script is not perfect however. There are a few lines of mediocre dialog (not a lot though) and the writing could have been tweaked up a bit here and there. This is Tambakis’ first script, so this is fantastic for his first time.
This movie has been compared to “The Fighter.” They are similar; they are both fighting movies that also deal with complicated family issues. “Warrior” taps out “The Fighter in the end. The acting from Bale really helped “The Fighter out. This move however has everything going for it. Plus the fight scenes are better, and there is more emotion. This movie is not perfect. It is flawed. But any problems I had with it were set aside and forgotten by the end. By the time I was ready to write my review, I couldn’t remember what had bothered me about the movie. I ended up seeing it again. I noticed the little problems, but they didn’t bother me anymore – in context with the overall impact of the film. I got wrapped up in everything going on. I got attached to the characters and loved every second of it on second viewing too. I would buy this movie on DVD. There isn’t a lot more I can ask for in a movie of this genre, or any movie for that matter. So, how can this movie not deserve my perfect rating? Four stars it is! I came in skeptical and walked out amazed.