Warrior is a 2011 Lionsgate and Mimran Schur Pictures action drama film about two brothers that enter a Mixed Martial Arts tournament. Brendan, a family man, is seeking the prize money to save his house for his wife and daughters, while Tommy, an Iraqi War hero, plans to give the money to his best friend and fallen comrade’s widow and two kids.  This brings them to a head-on collision when their estranged, recovering alcoholic father, Paddy, agrees to train Tommy for the tournament.

The film stars Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, and Academy Award Nominee Nick Nolte.

The music is written and composed by Academy Award Nominated Composer Mark Isham.

The film is written by Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, and Cliff Dorfman, based on a story by Gavin O’Connor and Cliff Dorfman.

The film is produced by Lionsgate, Mimran Schur Pictures, Solaris Entertainment, and Filmtribe, and is distributed by Lionsgate.

Warrior is directed by Gavin O’Connor.

Simply put, Warrior is one of the best movies to come out this year.  It was such a pleasure to watch this movie, especially in this dead month known as September.  Disguised as a no-holds-barred MMA action movie (no doubt to hook in the UFC fans and younger crowds), Warrior in reality is an amazing character drama about 3 men and their extremely tense relationships with each other, as well as their own personal matters and demons, that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time.  Some critics are saying that this is the Rocky of this generation, and while it isn’t that good (and let’s face it what really is), I definitely understand the comparison.

Tom Hardy delivers the performance of his career as Tom Riordan/Conlon.  The transformation he had to go through in order to play Tom was intense.  Hardy went through a demanding training routine for gaining muscle during the film’s pre-production, gaining around 28 pounds of muscle and raising his overall weight to 205 pounds.  This is a man that always delivers his “A” game when it comes to his career.  While the role that got Hollywood’s attention was the 2008 British film Bronson, the role that got the American public’s attention was his role of Eames in 2010’s Inception (a special shout out to Praetor Shinzon from Star Trek Nemesis…one of the only good things from that movie).  But I believe this is the role that will get Hardy an Oscar nomination.  The same can be said about his co-star Joel Edgerton.  Best known for playing Owen Lars aka “Uncle Owen” in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (although I would rather just forget those movies even exist), Edgerton has never been truly exposed to the American audience quite like this, and he proved he is more than capable of acting with the best of them.  To top it all off, Nick Nolte delivers a riveting performance as Paddy Conlon, the brothers estranged recovering alcoholic father.  The levels of emotion Nolte goes through in this film are truly incredible, and it is by far the best thing I’ve seen the veteran actor in.  The rest of the cast adds just adds more class and credibility to this already impressive group.  Just a huge congratulations to the entire cast of Warrior.

The story was one of the more interesting parts of the film.  It’s a rare thing to see a film have more than one main focus of the film, but it can be debated that Brendan and Tom were both co-stars of the film.  The film jumps back and forth, starting with Tom’s story, then Brendan’s, Tom, Brendan……until the two come to a head.  Even until the very end of the film when the brothers are squaring off with each other, I was left thinking which one was actually going to win out in the end.  That’s rare for a film to do that to me, and that’s what I mean about keeping me on the edge of my seat.  I was completely involved in the film in my seat!!!

The music in the film was overall okay.  Composer Mark Isham did the extremely smart thing with this one and let the music be a background character to the already impressive cast.  The music was really understated but played well during the scenes it needed to.  A special mention to the composer’s song choice towards the end of the film.  Not many scenes give me chills because I am so into the film, but that song put it over the top for me.  I teared up a little during that scene.

Director Gavin O’Connor is no stranger to the sports drama film, but this is by far his best work.  The man really fired on all cylinders with this one.  Instead of relying on fancy camera work and special effects, he directed the actors and just let the camera record it.  He relied on the strength of the story and the talent of his cast.  Although I didn’t really care for the quick cuts during the cage fighting scenes during the tournament, I do understand them.  Despite the shaky cam, you could still follow most of the fighting.  The fights were realistic, and you could almost feel the punches and kicks as they landed on the bodies of the fighters.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Gavin O’Connor received an Oscar nomination for Best Director when Oscar Season rolls around.

In this dead month of September, getting a good movie is a rare thing, but getting an amazing movie is almost unheard of.  I’m extremely happy that Warrior was released in this month, and I urge everyone to see it at some point!!!

an 8.5 out of 10

(release date: 9 September 2011)

Nick Nolte has been nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Tom Wingo in Columbia PicturesThe Prince of Tides and his performance as Wade Whitehouse in Lions Gate FilmsAffliction.

Mark Isham has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score for Columbia Pictures’ A River Runs Through It.

~ by Matt Whitfield on September 16, 2011.

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