193 of 201 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2011
Except 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.
53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
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.
61 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2011
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 is......wow. 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!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2012
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.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2012
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.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2011
I won't get into the film's premise because it's been covered well enough here. What I'll say is that I went into this film not expecting much more than a "Boxer" "Rocky" feel good film. I rented it because it looked like a halfway decent way to spend a couple of hours with. I read some reviews to juice myself up for it. I'll admit that I'm kind of jaded to these sort of films and I sure as hell didn't expect to actually like, let alone love it but that's exactly what happened. Believe the hype. Rocky is my all time favorite movie not for its intelligence but for the fact that its main characters felt real, I could truly identify with them completely. And what I especially love about this film is that it used the human element and not CGI or 3D to make me feel this way.
Haven't seen a lot of movies at the theater this year. Frankly, haven't been any that I could get myself up to driving to, and plunking down 10 bucks to see. But this is one I would have paid to see. A shame that it didn't receive the publicity that it deserves. What it does deserve is recognition at Oscar time. Best actors, take your pick. Best supporting actor, definitely Nolte. I damn near, no I did, cry, because of Nolte's performance. With all of the comparisons to Rocky, I still can't say this movie eclipses it. But I will say that this film does for MMA what Rocky did for boxing--it humanizes a sport characterized by brutality. Bravo!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2012
There's not one negative thing I can possibly say about this film. Not a single one. Warrior is perfectly cast and perfectly acted with a beautifully told story that plays out with spot on perfect pacing. "Warrior" is quite possibly a "PERFECT" movie in all respects if that sort of thing even exists in Hollywood any more. It tells a compelling story that you're immediately drawn into with enough back story on the characters for you to completely invest in them. Take Tom Hardy's character for instance. The guy comes off as totally abrasive and really unlikable-yet at the same time, you understand completely why he is the way he is and you don't fault him for it. You understand him. Nick Nolte's character on the other hand-knowing his past and what a horrible man he must have been makes him sort of despicable. Yet one cannot help but feel sympathy for him in his tough journey to become a better man even though his son's have written him off and will forever see their father as a monster without possible redemption. Joel Edgerton's character (my favorite of the trio) has his own problems to deal with and though he is the most grounded, also suffers from a deep mistrust of his father and an estrangement from his brother.
"Warrior" is just an all out excellent film that gives you something to believe in, something to cheer for and will absolutely make you feel something. I challenge any man alive to watch this film and not get choked up at one scene or another. It strikes a man on so many levels in a way that's honest and heart felt. Last year, the film "The Fighter" garnered so much oscar love and attention. "Warrior" blows "The Fighter" away in every category in my opinion. It's just an outstanding movie all the way through and for two solid hours just takes you into the lives of these three men you can totally relate to and root for. Don't miss this one. This movie is absolutely outstanding. This should have hands down won the Oscar for best picture this year (criminally it wasn't even nominated). At least Nick Nolte earned a nomination though for best supporting actor though and rightfully so. Incredible!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
In a word, fantastic. That is how I would describe this movie. I passed it by again and again thinking "I've seen this movie a million times." I thought it would be a rip-off of The Fighter. I thought it would be terrible and low-budget. How wrong I was . . . I only watched this movie after reading a quick blurb in Entertainment Weekly where the author opined this movie should get a best picture nomination. He was dead-on. This movie was what The Fighter should have been. It has a few weaknesses (a bit predictable in places, some amazing coincidences) but in the end it just doesn't matter because this movie does what few others do anymore: it tells a great story that really stays with you. I am sick of movies where all the money is spent on special effects and the script gets whatever is leftover. This movie is about two brothers torn apart by their dysfunctional family when they are young. Sound bleak? It really isn't because overall this is a movie about the human spirit. The story is told against the backdrop of MMA fighting, but the story is the real draw, the MMA is just the vehicle for it.
Mark my words: Tom Hardy will become the greatest actor of his generation. (a secret - he already is). He is the next big bad in the upcoming Batman movie. Check him out in a little British mini-series called "The Take." The man is a true chameleon if there ever was one. Nick Nolte also delivers a performance unmatched in his career. He was just nominated for an academy award for best supporting actor for this role.
Think you've seen this movie before? Trust me, you haven't.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Here's a review I never dreamed I would write, for three good reasons: 1) I don't like blood sports. 2) I avoid sports clichés. 3) I'm not fond of Nick Nolte. I don't think I would have liked this 2011 movie quite so much if I hadn't watched the extras on the DVD. They provided some insight for a rabid MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) non-fan (ME!), which helped get me past the blood and the pain those folks inflict on one another and try to understand the underlying skills. Sorta like football: Two teams of over-grown hulks pummeling each other into hamburger, but there IS some skill involved, right?
Sooooo... Bottom line: 1) I still don't like blood sports. 2) Clichés become clichés because on a very basic level, they work. 3) I still don't like Nick Nolte. But the wrenching final match stayed with me long enough to warrant a review for Amazon.com.
We have a pair of brothers. When they were children, one split with Mom when the marriage broke up, the other stayed with the alcoholic father. Neither had an easy time of it. Now, one is a returning Marine vet, the other is a physics teacher with a wife and children. Through a series of clichés, they both end up back in the MME cage, fighting their way toward the championship. By the time they have come this far, we want BOTH of them to win!
* Nick Nolte ("Three Fugitives") Let's get him out of the way first. He hits all his marks and delivers the goods, I just don't like the goods he delivers. You know, the contrite former alcoholic who is really, really sorry. I agree with his sons: Talk is cheap, but the damage is done. We can't un-ring the bell here, folks!
* Tom Hardy ("This Means War") is the former Marine. The American accent used by this British-born bloke convinced me he was from Pittsburgh! This war veteran seethes with hostility and rage: perfect for the MMA cage!
* Joel Edgerton ("Kinky Boots") no trace of Down Under in this guy's American accent either! His character is sweet, a much-loved high-school physics teacher with a loyal wife and two sweet little girls.
* Jennifer Morrison ("Star Trek" 2009) is that loyal wife. She understands the very real danger her husband is exposed to and does NOT want another ride in an ambulance!
* Frank Grillo ("The Grey") is a long-time family friend and coach who knows the family dynamics at play here. He has a good reason why Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" is the entrance music for his fighter.
There is a lot of showmanship involved in MMA matches and this movie manages to capture it. Luckily the matches only bookend the REAL issues at stake here and both of the lead actors are skilled enough to capture our attention and our allegiance, to the point that we actually CARE what happens in the cage.
It was that last round that got me!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I really hate the name of this movie. In all honesty, the name `Warrior' denotes a cheapness that really isn't present here. In fact, outside of some clichéd plotting (especially in that final showdown) and some unflattering editing decisions (the workout montage was ill conceived, for my personal taste at least), this film is far from cheap. `Warrior' is actually a very astute look at the war within ourselves to forgive and forget and move on from the roughness that is life. While one may assume that `Warrior' is yet another attempt to cash in on men inflicting violence on other men for sport, it has far more heart than that.
I'd even go as far as to say that `Warrior' is superior to last year's Oscar horse, `The Fighter'; although they are both in the B-Grade level for me (`Warrior' inching more towards a B+).
`Warrior' tells the story of three men connected more so by violence than by blood. Paddy Conlon is a former boxer and a former drunk who inflicted so much physical and emotional damage on his two sons, Brendan and Tommy, that he has absolutely no relationship with them. Brendan ran off when he was still a young boy with his heavily abused mother and has been missing from Paddy's life for fourteen years. Brendan stayed around, mostly because he had fallen in love with his High School sweetheart, and lives close by but remains out of touch with his father; sending the occasional picture and receiving the occasional phone call. Tommy suddenly shows up on his father's doorstep. He is shrouded with mystery and seems content with keeping his father at an extreme distance. He is in need of some money and so he decides to train for a Mixed Martial Arts tournament, and he needs his father's help to do so. Unknowingly, his very own brother Brendan is considering entering the same tournament. Brendan, a former UFC fighter, is struggling to pay his mortgage and decides to pick up some extra money fighting.
Ultimately, we all know who is going to make it to the finals of that tournament.
Aside from the obvious predictability of it all (I did, honestly, have NO IDEA who was going to win that fight though), `Warrior' presents a message I wasn't ready to embrace, and yet it was so clear and so honest and so provoking that I can't help but embrace it now. As the film prods along we get to see these men for the rugged, ravaged, barren souls that they are. They seem hollow and hopeless and alone and desperate yet apathetic. They have given up on themselves and all hope of reconnecting. And then something happens. Tommy finally abuses his father to a point of no return. Tommy finally `becomes' the man he hated and then his father, broken to the bone, reverts and falls to pieces and Tommy, previously full of loathing, folds with compassion for the man he grew up fearing. This same approach is taken at the end of the final fight, where the victorious brother embraces the losing brother with such tenderness. It's funny, because as I was seeing it I was blown away by how much sense it really made. In life, we can feel such distain, hatred or even malice towards someone, but when we see them fall apart, especially at our own doing, it rouses in us a love that is often misread as pity but is truly genuine in texture. I've always said that you cannot hate someone without first loving them, and visa versa. Those qualities are so specifically interwoven because they are the ying and yang of affections. You cannot hate someone unless you know them intimately enough to care about who and what they are, and you cannot possibly love someone unless you are know them intimately enough to be moved to hate by their actions. If you didn't love them then you wouldn't care if they hurt you. `Warrior' displays that truth beautifully, with subtle notes that make a very big impact.
And the acting on all fronts is tremendous. Many have noted Marlon Brando and his `One the Waterfront' performance when referencing Tom Hardy's performance here. I wouldn't go that far, but he really evokes a sense of understanding with his rough yet pleading appearance. For me, Joel Edgarton is the real standout. He makes Brendan feel so human and relatable. The way he aches to do right by his family is etched across his face perfectly. I will say this; I'm surprised that Nick Nolte is not the frontrunner for the Supporting Oscar this year. Sure, I agree that Christopher Plummer gave the better performance, and so when he wins I'll be ecstatic, but Nolte's performance here is not only great, it is so OSCARY. I mean, he plays a reformed drunk, he has emotional breakdowns, he is supremely sympathetic despite his obvious monstrous past and he nails his two Oscar moments (the pleading with Brendan and that shocking hotel room scene with Tommy). If anyone is going to take Plummer's Oscar from him, it'll be Nolte.
Either way, a VERY deserving performance is going to win on Oscar night.
So, in closing, I was very impressed with `Warrior'. It's a little too long, it does have that unfortunate montage in the middle that feels dated, unnecessary and cheap, and the way the actual tournament is handled feels rushed in parts and drawn out in others (trying to create tension when we already know who is going to make it to the final two is a little pointless, but thanks for trying I guess), but `Warrior' says a lot more than it's stupid name suggests.
`Warrior' has real heart.