Saturday, October 26, 2013

Warrior (2011)

WarriorExcept for the lack of a SPOILER note at the beginning of the first reviewer, I think these first two reviews pretty much cover the story and hit some high points of the film. I do want to disagree with some of the remarks, though.

First, I would not call this a sports movie. It is not Rocky, Raging Bull, The Wrestler, or The Fighter. Warrior, according to many professional critics, is better than all of them, and I agree. There is the suspense factor of who will win the championship fight, for sure, and the stand-up-and-cheer factor as the opponents are picked off one by one, and there is the heartwarming factor as the school teacher tries to save his home from foreclosure. These cliches somehow are not relevant to this film and I salute O'Connor and the other writers for telling a story that glosses over them.

As some reviewers have pointed out, this film is not really about MMA (mixed martial arts) winners and losers. Like others, I had never heard of MMA and don't like either boxing or wrestling (for me the former is just brutal beating and the second relies on a series of moves that I don't understand). But in this film MMA is choreographed so that you see the intensity and bruises on the fighters faces, the strain and pain on their arms, legs, and shoulders, but are not cringing at any blood and gore. There is no blood and gore in the cage (and probably that is what accounts for its PG-13 rating). As for the cinematography, the periodically trembling camera follows the fighters in close-ups, so you actually feel like you are standing in the ref's shoes. The score, which includes Ode to Joy and The National's About Today, is perfect.

I think what really puts the gold on the five stars, though, is the caliber of acting. When the movie was made,over two years ago, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton were barely known to American audiences. O'Connor said he didn't want the performers to overshadow the characters, and with the anonymity of the actors, he would achieve that. He shouldn't have worried. The brothers, especially Hardy, completely disappear in the characters. Nolte not so much. His real life and his persona as Paddy Conlon are not so far apart, but I can't think of any other actor who could redeem this character with such pathos.

As story-telling goes, Warrior is both a movie and a film. Nobody doesn't love Warrior. Teens will love it, the parent-sibling-sibling conflicts relatable. And the cage fighting will thrill them. In fact, the whole family will enjoy this, sitting on the edge of the seats, cheering, and tearing up sometimes simultaneously. By the way, it wasn't only the ladies tearing up a time or two. After the screening I attended, no one, man or woman, moved from their seats, the lights remained down, only some muted sniffling and discreet blowing of noses.

For the arthouse crowd, there is profound metaphor embedded in the film. There are actually three warriors (fighters) in Warrior, and not one of them actually wins the war (the big fight). The brothers have not seen each other in 14 years, each of them feeling betrayed by the other at a crucial point in the life of the family. The one thing they have in common is hatred for their father, a former drunk and wife-beater. Brendan, the older son, has moved his own family as far away from Paddy as possible and still be in the same state. Communication must be had only by phone or mail. Tommy, an ex-Marine, shows up at his father's house, again after 14 years --but with zero communication-and wants Paddy to train him for a big tournament. Why in the world, some would say, does Tommy go to his father for this. He hates him. Well, Paddy, also an ex-Marine and pro boxer, trained both Tommy and Brendan as boys. Tommy in wrestling, Brenden in boxing. But Tommy was a champion. Parallels permitted to be drawn. And so, because his motivation is so strong (and so poignant as we find out later), Tommy wants to be trained by the man who made him champion. Paddy hopes to revive this relationship, but Tommy is having none of it. Hardy absolutely seethes in his scenes with Nolte; every comment is a stab wound, every look a gunshot. Nolte takes it like a dog after he's been kicked. Coming back for the pat on the head. Scenes between these two are Oscar material, hands down.

As the story develops, slowly, but with tantalizing bits of mystery in the plot, a lot of gaps are filled in. At the point where the two finalists, Tommy Riordan and Brendan Conlon ("They are brothers!" the announcer shouts), enter the cage, we are so conflicted we want to cry (and we do). Then the script throws us a screwball(another shock, another jerk of a tear). Who the hell to cheer for?! There are no bad guys to fight! Just two alienated brothers who need to beat the crap out of each other in order to win the prize they need so desperately. And when the fight is over, it isn't really over. The end of the cage fight is gut-wrenching. No one wins. Not Tommy, not Brendan, not Paddy. A lot of people say the "ending" of the movie is predictable. Which ending is that? The knockout? The takedown? The tapout? And what exactly do each of those signify? Is there redemption for Paddy? Are there resolutions to the conflicts among the father and brothers? What happens to Tommy, to Brendan, to Paddy, after the tournament ends?

Warrior will run your emotions ragged. High, low, and very few in-betweens. I think the movie will make the Best Films list, and it better get its nominations for Hardy and Nolte. I think Edgerton's quietly powerful performance is award worthy, too, but not in contention with the other two. I hope audiences don't pass this film by because they think it's a violent fight movie or, for UFC fans, too tame. This is a jewel that should be treasured by everyone.

I went to an advanced screening (my first) and I must feel the need to brag about how lucky I was to see it a week before everyone else has. The film itself There really aren't that many films that make you feel like you are actually living the life of another individual alongside that person or persons, but this film does! The writing is absolutely great and realistic, with the characters' dialogue ingraining itself in your memory for days to come. It also paints an amazing and provoking story. Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy) is a war hero who has just returned from service and looks to enter a MMA tournament, the prize of which is $5 million. At first, it appears that the reason he is doing this is just for pure activity and for fun, but it is eventually revealed that he wants to donate his prize to support the wife and children of his slain war buddy. The man has got some raw talent, due to the fact that his father, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) trained him in wrestling and martial arts for many years when he was young. He appears at his father's house to ask for him to train him again, but you can tell right away that there is some turbulent history between these two, because of Paddy's former alcoholism and abusiveness towards his wife and children. Paddy is almost 1,000 days sober now and looks to make amends and seek real forgiveness with Tommy, who makes it perfectly clear he doesn't have a father and only needs a trainer. Meanwhile, Brendan Colon (Joel Edgerton), Tommy's brother, is also adept in fighting due to being a former professional UFC player. Now he's a family man with a beautiful and supporting wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) and two daughters. He is having major financial problems and between him and his wife, they keep three jobs, with Brenden being a well-liked physics teacher at the local high school by day and a MMA fighter at a strip club parking lot event by night. Unfortunately, Brendan faces foreclosure on his house when he can't make ends meet because he gets suspended from his job when he keeps showing up to work with wounds and bruises. He decides the only way to fix things is to fight full-time, and eventually leads himself to the major tournament which his brother is also heading to. We learn over the course of the film that there are serious emotional issues between the two Conlon brothers and their father, and the film has many talky dramatic and extremely well-acted moments that reveal details and develop the journey for genuine retribution and forgiveness searched for by all three main characters. This is compunded when the brothers end up facing off with each other in the final match of the tournament and simultaneously draw the attention of an entire nation of people with their bout. The acting is absolutely incredible from every person involved and the level of realism that each person brings to their character is unbelievable. I have seen Tom Hardy being labeled as a young Marlon Brando, and it's easy to see why as he completely immerses himself in his role as a gritty tough-guy. He is definitely my favorite up-and-coming actor. Another favorite up-and-comer of mine is Joel Edgerton, who really makes you care for Brendan and sympathize with his troubles, but you also feel an amzing connection to both him and Tommy throughout the film. By far the most nuanced and well-acclaimed acting role in this film is that of Nick Nolte as Paddy who displays an amazing vulnerability and you really feel sorry for him as he strives to put all of his past mistakes right. Jennifer Morrison does a great job as Tess, Brendan's wife, and she really draws attention whenever she is in a scene. Gavin O' Connor's writing and directing also really make this film a triumph, and I hope he continues to make more films as soon as possible. The ending moments of the film are incredibly powerful and I found myself not knowing who I wanted to win the tournament out of the two brothers, but one of them does win, and I won't reveal who does obviously because you absolutely need to find that out for yourself when you watch the movie. Movies like "Rocky", "Raging Bull", and "The Fighter" are incredible peices of cinema, but in my personal opinion, I believe "Warrior" is a a movie that I enjoyed far more and I am labeling it my own personal favorite sports movie and it is the best movie period of 2011 so far. GO SEE IT!!! I have notified Amazon to tell me when the movie gets a release date for Blu-Ray so I can preorder it. I can't wait to add it to my collection!

Buy Warrior (2011) Now

I loved this movie! This is the best movie I have seen in a long time. Not only are the fight scenes incredibly exicting, but the family drama is very moving. I cried during this film more than once. I think I am a little in love with Tom Hardy now. Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton all gave Oscar Worthy performances.

Tommy (Hardy) and Brendan (Edgerton) are estranged brothers who both enter the same MMA Tournament. Tommy is an ex-Marine, an Iraq War hero, fighting for a fallen brother and Brendan is a married Physics Teacher fighting to keep a roof over his family's head. They have an ex-alcoholic, ex-abusive father that they both dislike who caused heartache and a terrible childhood for both of them. Their father, played by Nick Nolte (incredible performance)tries like hell to make it up to both of them and becomes Tommy's trainer. Their past mistakes and regrets all come to a head in the arena.

This is a beautiful and moving story about love and forgiveness. Go see this movie, you will not regret it.

Read Best Reviews of Warrior (2011) Here

I do not want to expand on what the rest of the viewers have aptly described this film as, which is awesome.

I had to bite my lip to stop myself from crying in the last scene, but i cried anyways and i tend to tease my wife when she cries at the movies. I just had to call up my brother after that and talk to him. I still choke up when i think about that scene.

This is going to be a keeper in my collection. Brilliant performances all around, especially by Nick and Tom.

Want Warrior (2011) Discount?

I am not an MMA fan, but I can not EVER remember seeing a movie with this many reviews rated at 5 stars on Amazon . After reading a few reviews, I decided it was worth renting. Well it was, and then some.

No need for a lengthly review, it has all been said. But my wife (who cannot EVER stay awake past 10PM), stayed up past midnight watching this one. Terrific drama that is well written with superior acting performances.

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