Friday, 4 November 2011


Warrior [Review]

Opinion: A-

A powerful sports drama that revolves around a troubled family of bad blood between them, Warrior sustained itself exceptionally well even against all the hard punches and slams that the film delivered. Debatable views on the shaky camerawork as it was constantly fidgeting throughout the 140 minutes of drama and MMA action. Gavin O'Connor directed well but truly scored in his co-screenwriting.

Rising stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton command the screen as two estranged brothers facing the fight of a lifetime in Lionsgate's WARRIOR, a moving, inspirational action drama from acclaimed director Gavin O'Connor (Miracle).

Haunted by a tragic past, Marine Tommy Conlon (Hardy) returns home for the first time in fourteen years to enlist the help of his father (Nick Nolte) to train for Sparta, the biggest winner-takes-all event in mixed martial arts history. A former wrestling prodigy, Tommy blazes a path toward the championship while his brother, Brendan (Edgerton), an ex-fighter-turned teacher, returns to the ring in a desperate bid to save his family from financial ruin. But when Brendan's unlikely, underdog rise sets him on a collision course with the unstoppable Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront each other and the forces that pulled them apart, facing off in the most soaring, soul stirring, and unforgettable climax that must be seen to be believed.

A rousing ode to redemption, reconciliation and the power of the human spirit, "Warrior" is also a moving testament to the enduring bonds of family.

I recalled briefly that when Lionsgate's Warrior had just released its trailer back then, it came under a lot of sceptism as it was heavily seen as an imitation take of David O. Russell's The Fighter. But what caught my eye then was how Tom Hardy buffed himself up for the ferocious role as a wrestler turned mixed martial artist.

Indeed he didn't disappoint.

With his spot on expressions and minute habitual actions that he managed to cultivate within his demeanour so naturally, Tommy was one of the most memorable characters of Warrior. Tommy, a US Marine who used to be deployed in Iraq, also came in as the "assumed champion" candidate as opposed to his underdog brother Brendan.

Brendan was a Physics school teacher whose financial woes were pushing him towards the fighting ring.

Brendan was less ferocious but practiced better technical combat intelligence and perseverance. He's the type of fighter who would patiently wait for the right moment to take advantage of to bring home victory. Two very different brothers, began very strangely in separate scenes prior the final MMA action act, with a lot of feud between them.

It's not just the two of them, there's their alcoholic father Paddy (played by Nick Nolte).

Paddy didn't have a significant moment of alcohol abuse (although the camerawork seemed to be performed by a drunkard), in fact he felt so fatherly that we often stood on his side whenever the brothers stood defiantly against his relationship-patching advances. It wasn't depicted, but it was through this that we could be well-convinced of how he must have ill-treated the brothers previously.

There were no surprises here, it all boiled towards a climatic battle on the MMA tournament ring and it's probably anybody's guess (especially if you've seen the trailer and poster) that the brothers will fulfill their destinies eventually. But it was interesting how both were protagonists despite one coming in as an obvious winner while the other an underdog.

Not to forget, they are brothers.

Besides the heavy-handed MMA action that will knock you out viscerally when you experience it on the big screen with an impressive sound system, the film also cleverly scripted three predominant American issues within the screenplay.

Domestic woes and violence, financial woes, and the military campaign in Iraq.

The sensitive family history involved felt real and could easily be related to any of the lower class families, especially when alcohol and drugs came into the picture to induce further tragedy. The financial situation involving property and health were subtly reflected in Brendan's chapter. Brendan was at the verge of bankruptcy and desperately tried to retain his house for the sake of his family. One of his daughter was also currently receiving medical care for her heart condition. Tommy also came with some baggage from his Iraqi military service deployment.

Everybody came from woe and fought hard against it, whom we gradually view as worthy Warriors who were fighting for a cause. Tommy and Brendan fought each other for their respective cause. It slightly intrigued me on whether their cause were larger than the feud between them, and if the feud was even larger than their love for each other as brothers.

Forgiveness doesn't come easy and O'Connor illustrated it well.
The characters, their stories, and the punches and slams were as real as one another in life. With all these combined in synergy, we've got a winner that will knock you out cold definitely.

I found myself experiencing adrenaline shock-waves long after the credit roll ended.

1 comment:

  1. What a great review J-Son!

    I was very keen to see this film but it fell by the wayside as other films were released which took priority, however based on your review, I think I will make the effort to go and watch this one on the big screen.

    Well thought out review, sounds like a great film.


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