Gavin O’Connor directs and co writes this 2011 drama about two estranged bothers (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) who both, initially unbeknownst to each other, enter a major Mixed Martial Arts championship for a grand prize of $5 million . Brendan (Edgerton) is a physics teacher who needs the money to keep his and his family’s house whereas Tommy (Hardy) is a U.S. Marine, surrounded in mystery and hiding from a certain incident; his motives are made clear towards the end. Training him is his recovering alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) with whom both boys have a fractured relationship.

What struck me most about Warrior was how genuinely moving and touching many scenes are; this is mostly down to Edgerton’s performance, who I seem to be becoming a definite fan of ever since Midnight Special. Those parts that involve his character in emotional scenes with Hardy, Nolte and Jennifer Morrison are note perfect and definitely gets the audience emotionally invested in the film. This is a film where the build-up is the most satisfying part and consequently make the fight scenes, technically, the weakest part of the film. Of course, the MMA scenes are great, it’s just that the build-up is the film’s most compelling element. The actors involved certainly deliver and it is incredibly laudable that a film can get us so emotionally invested in these characters.

The film is excellently written; it’s one of those screenplays that adds the relevant pieces of information gradually, not spoonfeeding them to the audience. The best example of this is Tommy’s storyline; there is definite mystery surrounding his character as we constantly ask ourselves what he’s running/hiding from and what the real reasons are for entering the tournament. Throughout the film, the pieces are put into place, pieces that don’t immediately make sense, and by the end we are able to put it all together and finally realise what kind of character he really is. In addition, when the reason of why the two brothers became estranged in the first place is finally revealed, it is incredibly satisfying and through the carefully constructed screenplay, the emotional punch is undeniable.

As mentioned before, the MMA fight scenes are great; confidently directed, they are appropriately tense, brutal and, though it all leads to a fairly predictable ending, all eyes are glued to the screen throughout. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen mixed martial arts in a film before but here, it is definitely exciting and nail biting.

And yes, there is a training montage!

An excellently written, genuinely moving and exciting film; Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy deliver powerhouse performances with excellent support from Nick Nolte and Jennifer Morrison. 

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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