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191 of 199 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This War Is Not in an MMA Cage, September 16, 2011
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This review is from: Warrior (DVD)
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.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 39 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 15, 2011 5:03:01 PM PDT
Yes. A wonderful movie. And hardly anyone went to see it. (It made only $5 million the first week in wide release.) It seems to be the case that there is a whole new generation of brilliant young actors (Hardy, Edgerton, Chris Evans in Puncture) who don't have a following unless they appear in a blockbuster special effects movie, and then it's the event movie audiences go to, not the actor.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2011 9:31:30 PM PDT
Margo says:
So true. These indie films need to be made regardless of box office receipts! Well, Edgerton will be in The Great Gatsby next year and Hardy is Bane in Dark Knight Rises, so they will be known then. Whether their acting brilliance is noted is another matter.

Posted on Nov 1, 2011 6:22:18 PM PDT
If this movie doesn't win awards I will give up completely on the Oscar system. The only time I ever see a movie twice in theater is if I am dragged there by a girl that I'm trying to date. I saw Warrior three times in theater and would have gone for a fourth, but it stopped being played. I can't that people weren't dying to see this movie. I was dragging everyone person I could to see this movie and every single person cried. All three times, when the movie had ended, the theater was dead silent. I hate that I'm going to have to wait until Jan to buy a copy of this.

I agree with everything you send, except for your part about none of the fighters winning. I didn't see it that way. After Patty's breakdown, Tommy in a sense, forgave his father when he cradled him in his arms. Brendon shows acceptance toward Patty progressively throughout the tournament, as he walks to and from the ring, and you know that he is actually looking for him in the crowd of the final fight, when he asked Tommy where he was. The resolution between the brothers is blatantly obvious. Tommy, who had been holding on to all of the pain and hatred toward Brendon for having, in Tommy's eyes, abandoned their mother and himself, for so many years. Which is why he when two rounds with a dislocated shoulder, he would never concede defeat to this person that has resented half of his life. So, you see that Tommy finally lets go of all of his hate and forgives Brendon in the last seconds of the fight. After he taps, tommy and Brendon revert back to the roles of their childhood. Tommy takes on a childlike persona, vulnerable, afraid, and looking toward his older brother for protection. Brendon, not caring at all that he just won 5 million dollars, is right back into his protective older brother stance that just wants to take care of his hurt little brother.

I think it's beautifully resolved. Everybody wins. The brother have forgiven each other. It appears that both boys have somewhat forgiven their father and will probably allow him to be more apart of their lives. Brendon and his family are set for life. Even though the widow of Tommy's friend didn't get anything, she probably wasn't hurting too bad anyway. I was in the military and the families of members that die in Iraq are taken care of. They get $500,000, free medical and dental, and all of the kid's colleges are paid for, etc. Even, the part about Tommy being AWOL. He has become a celebrity and he would be up for a medal for saving those trapped Marines. So, there would be no way that the Marines would come down hard on him. It would be bad for He probably get a slap on hand and most likely still get an Honorable Discharge. So, happy times all around.

All in all, this is by far the best movies I've seen in a very long time and I can't imagine another movie matching the depth, intensity, and emotional roller coaster of this movie for quite sometime!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2011 8:47:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2011 11:32:58 PM PST
Margo says:
SPOILER ALERT I'm glad that you gave the characters a happy ending! but I think one of the beauties of the film is that nothing is resolved on screen. (I should have said not everything has an ending on screen.) You are right about Brendan and Tommy. Their relationships is definitely resolved at the end. There is just so much emotion at the end. We see the MPs there as Tommy walks off with Brendan. As Tommy says, deserting is the worst thing you can do to your buddies. He knows what AWOL means and he is a Marine thru and thru. Though he has good reason, my jury is out on how he will be punished. I agree that the brothers, with Brendan on the beach and with Tommy's gentle tapout, are reconciled. I want to think that Brendan gives a million bucks to Manny's wife, but again this is something we are left to wonder about. Remember, she says, and she's crying, o Tommy you are so good to us. We're doing all right, we're getting along all right, but you are so helpful -- or words to that effect. Brendan and his wife are just such good solid people, I can see them doing this. But, again, in the high emotion of the ending, we don't consider what happens after the brothers leave the cage. After Paddy cries seeing them reconciled, he turns his back. I thought: he has relapsed. He has to rehab all over again. Will he want his boys and granddaughters see him in the bottle again? Why does he walk away from them at the end after he nods his head to see them reconciled? Lots to reflect on, to chew on. One of the reasons I just love this film. I can't figure it out, either, why no one came to see this. Every review I read gave it four/four or four/five. When I'm looking for movies to see, that'll do it for me. I know times are rough, money is tight, but they all came running out to see crap like Contagion. Some of my friends said they thought everyone thought it was a bloody fight movie; some said no one knew who the actors were. Who knows. They didn't come. I know O'Connor wanted to put Warrior up for awards season this year. The film was made in 2009 and was held back because of The Wrestler and The Fighter. Maybe people thought they'd had enough pugilism. Who knows. IMO Warrior is far superior to The Fighter and better even than Rourke's Wrestler. I am hoping some of the Oscar voters will note the performances and nominate Hardy, Edgerton, and Nolte -- but that won't happen. Seeing Warrior on the small screen won't be anything like in the theater, will it? I feel sorry for the peeps who missed it. I saw it five times.

Posted on Nov 25, 2011 2:21:26 PM PST
T. Schaller says:
Tommy is played so well, all of the hurt, rage and hatred in him, that even sitting in the audience he's freakin' scary. The entire movie is well acted, but Tom Hardy blew me away.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2011 10:02:03 PM PST
Margo says:
I so agree! Joel's performance was very good, but not much of a stretch for the character. I think Nolte's Paddy should get the award for best support. The man was brilliant in his scenes. But, like you, I think Tom Hardy blew us all away. I especially cringed when he was humiliating Paddy with so few words -- like the first scene inside the house -- and that brutal "Don't touch me." Hardy deserves the Best Actor award for this, but he won't get it. Maybe when the academy sees him in the blockbuster Dark KR as Bane, he'll get his award. After all, Nolan says only Hardy could have played Bane and he nailed it. That's some high praise. Hardy also has Tinker Tailor out and a real gem in Wettest County in the World has now been pushed out until April 2012. If you haven't rented Bronson, by all means do so. It's brilliant. Tom is brilliant. I bought it last year.

Posted on Dec 22, 2011 12:54:15 AM PST
saw watched heard & listened 2 this movie loved it yes tear jerker cuase me my bothers well you get the idea if your reading these post & havent seen this movie it it on 2 watch! also those whove seen PRIDE AND GLORY some characters make it in this movie so you know its good no AWSOME! take care & enjoy.

Posted on Jan 7, 2012 10:26:47 AM PST
"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."

What critics said this?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2012 2:14:37 PM PST
If Hardy doesn't get a best actor nomination (and he won't) the Oscars will lose all credibility (but they already have). But at least A.O. Scott of the New York Times named Warrior one of the year's five best films, and Scott and his co-critic Manola Dargis named Hardy one of the year's five best actors.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2012 8:43:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 7, 2012 8:44:25 PM PST
Margo says:
Scotty:A few of them, around the time of its release. I can't rememember who they are now. They were responding to the promotion of the film as a sports movie and they said Warrior was better than all of the films mentioned above because it was a drama about a family in pain with exceptional acting by the whole cast -- features that excepted it from the tag of "sports movie." They did not diss Rocky, etc., but said Warrior was better than all of them. Try Chicago Sun-Times, NY Times, etc.
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