Yes, it’s cliched and overwrought, and oftentimes unbelievable, full of hoary melodrama and uninspired direction, but somehow, Warrior works — at least within the small confines of its uplifting sports-flick breeding. Warrior isn’t exactly original, lifting its faux-cinema verite handheld style, which here really just amounts poor lighting and figuring out what inanimate object to hide the cameraman behind, from better films. At the same time, its yet another underdog story, borrowing liberally from the Rocky series, transplanted into the world of mixed-martial arts, all the while submerging itself in every bit of hard luck melodrama it can dredge up. The story revolves around two brothers. Tommy (Tom Hardy), the younger of the two, is a marine who’s just returned from war, while begrudgingly recruiting his once alcoholic, abusive father Paddy (Nick Nolte), whom he hasn’t seen in 14 years, to help him train for a huge MMA tournament. There’s also Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a high school physics teacher who’s about to lose his home, and who also carries a grudge against his father, not to mention having some issues with his little brother. After reel upon reel of continued bad breaks and various melodramatic twists and turns, the crux of the film becomes an MMA tournament that both Tommy and Brendan enter. None of this is new, of course, but Warrior somehow manages to remain interesting. Some of this is due to its own overwrought nature, since the plot’s insistence on piling on more and more twists and turns and bouts of bad luck keep everything moving along and involving. While it never reaches the higher aspirations of the awards contender the trailers made it out to be, Warrior remains a surprisingly entertaining watch, and a better bet than a lot of the mainstream dreck out now.
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Writer: Gavin O'Connor, Anthony Tambakis and Cliff Dorfman
Producer: Greg O'Connor
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Kurt Angle, Kevin Dunn, Bryan Callen, Jennifer Morrison, Jake McLaughlin, Frank Grillo and Liam Ferguson