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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Aug. 6: Warrior


Aug. 6: Warrior

"The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he's trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament - a path that puts the fighter on a collision corner with his older brother."
Directed by: Gavin O'Connor, Rated: PG-13, 140 minutes

Warrior is one of the most under-appreciated movies in recent memory. It's a film that flew almost completely under the radar last year and was dismissed as something that tried to emulate the impact The Fighter had the year before. Warrior is a far superior film and it's sad the only recognition the film received from the Academy was a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Nick Nolte. It's a terrible shame, because Warrior is one of the best sports movies of all time, driven by stellar performances that turn the film into an instant classic. It's both brutal and hard to watch, for the unflinching portrayal of the sport of mixed martial arts as well as the heart-breaking dynamic between the family at the center of the film. 

It's Rocky without the montage. 

The story follows two estranged brothers, Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy (Tom Hardy) and their ex-alcoholic father, Paddy (Nick Nolte) who's trying his hardest to stay clean and rebuild his relationships with his two boys. Each brother has his own demons and struggles his facing, with Brendan, a physics teacher, having financial troubles and facing foreclosure and Tommy who's having a hard time coping with his life after doing a tour in Iraq. Brendan is the family man who has everything to lose and Tommy is the mysterious, troubled individual who seemingly only wants to find an outlet for his rage. Both brothers find themselves back in the world of mixed martial arts cage fighting and enter in the sport's biggest tournament, with a prize of $5 million. Tommy trains under his father, testing their relationship even more, and Brendan trains under Frank (Frank Grillo) and the amateur's strengths and abilities are immediately put to the test. 

Although Hardy can't seem to find any good opponents. 

Warrior is a movie all about the performances. Each character is completely different than the next, and the dynamic between all of them feels all too natural. A lot of the dialogue feels real and the interactions between all of them is so hard to watch because of how close to home it hits. Nick Nolte, especially, steals the show as Paddy, and each of his scenes showcasing his struggles to become a part of his sons' lives again breaks your heart. He's phenomenal in the role and not only gives the best performance of his career, but one of the best of the past few years. Joel Edgerton shows great range as Brendan and shows signs that he's ready to be a star. I've followed the guy for the past few years and have been waiting for him to breakout and Warrior could have been the perfect movie for him to do so, had it gotten more attention. And, as always, Tom Hardy shines as Tommy. It's a role tailored for his acting as well as his physique (he's Bane-ripped in this) and although his character is not the most likable at times, there's no denying he's quite the badass and seeing his story unfold is one of the most surprising parts of the film. The two men are so good in their roles and their characters' motivations so well developed, it's incredibly hard to choose who you want to see win it all. Edgerton and Hardy's dedication to the roles is more than evident, and most of the realism of the film can be attributed to the two men's talent. 

Hell hath no fury like a Batman villain in a cage. 

Warrior is a rare kind of film. It uses a lot of the ideas we're familiar with in a sports movie, but instead of making it feel overused and cliche, turns it on its head and makes a very suspenseful and enjoyable movie. Even if you're not a fan of mixed martial arts, there's nothing that would confuse you. In this fact, it's surprising that a film about something the majority of the population no very little about could be so damn good. That's credit to the strength of the film and is one of the many reasons why Warrior deserves to be seen. Do yourself a favor and watch it. It was just recently added to Netflix so there really is no excuse. 

The Good:
an honest look at the brutality of the sport of MMA and seeing the beatings dished out and received
The Better:
taking a seemingly formulaic sports movie and turning it into an instant classic, even giving Rocky a run for its money
The Best:
three performances at the center of the film filled with undeniable talent and a heart-wrenching Nick Nolte turning you into a mess

Overall: 9.1/10


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At August 6, 2012 at 7:36 PM , Blogger Two Tickets For... said...

This movie is, hands down, our favorite film from 2011. It's not even close. We could not agree more with every word you wrote about it. It's a damn shame it didn't get more recognition.

Right from the first scene between Paddy and Tommy the film breaks our hearts. And even though they give it away in the trailer what the climax will be, it's HOW the film gets to the point and the main players' performances that make it so good.

We're not afraid to admit it, every time we watch Warrior it makes us cry. Great review, Nick.

At August 6, 2012 at 8:41 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Such praise! lol. Thank you. Glad to see others love it just as much as me. Every scene featuring Paddy pulled your heart strings... so sad, so good.

At August 10, 2012 at 7:44 AM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

This was my favorite film from last year. The performances were amazing and the story is about so much more than the fighting.

At August 10, 2012 at 8:38 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Kirkham, indeed they are. The more I think about it and the more I discuss this movie, the more upset I get about how shafted it got by awards.


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