‘Warrior’ is a powerful and brilliantly done drama that deserves to be seen in cinemas.
Fighting dramas have always been an attractive genre for Hollywood since ‘Rocky’ and have managed to give us some great films as well as some mediocre ones. ‘Warrior’ may sound too similar to “The Fighter” which nabbed Christian Bale an Oscar last year. But is in fact a much different and more emotionally charged film with powerhouse performances which makes it not only one of the best films of the year but the best that the genre has to offer.
The film follows an ex-Marine Tommy Conlon (Hardy) who returns back home after service to his now-sober dad (Nick Nolte) and asks him to train him for SPARTA, which is the biggest mixed martial arts competition in the world. Brendan (Edgerton), an ex-fighter-turned teacher has also taken up the same path and both brothers share a dark domestic history and a rivalry against each other on the death of their mother. But as both the estranged brothers rise up the ranks of the competition in ways of their own, a heart-thumping finale is waiting to be happened that will test the strength of their family bond.
The amazing thing about ‘Warrior’ is just how emotionally charge the film feels. At the core, it’s a family drama that’s gritty and realistic in the issues it deals with. It’s a tale of two estranged brothers and their abusive father who has now seen the error of his ways. You would think that the story is clichéd and would lead to a lot of melodrama, but I was surprised to see how much dramatic heft the scenes carried. There are some exchanges between the father and sons that are not only hard-hitting but manage to emotionally affect you in a way that no other movie this year does. Even the fight scenes which are usually about the thrill are actually dramatic and deeper than just the surface thrills. Needless to say ‘Warrior’ is a much more affecting film than ‘The Fighter’ was but unfortunately will not win any awards thanks to its lack of Oscar-nominated players.
The performances here are some of the best I’ve seen this year. Tom Hardy, who was last seen in ‘Inception’ most famously and will play Bane in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, is a revelation in the role of a tough warrior that doesn’t need fame but just has a firm goal in mind. He has a firm command on dialogue delivery and the intensity required for the role both emotionally during the heavy moments of the film and physically when it comes to the fight scenes. He’s an actor who will go very far with the amount of skill he has. Joel Edgerton is almost a newcomer to the US thanks to most of his films being Australian, but manages to impress even more with his emotional range and how he completely fits the underdog character that the audience completely roots for. It’s a performance that should be recognised by the Academy but won’t. What will most likely win the Best Supporting Actor this year is Nick Nolte’s career-best performance as the washed-up dad. He’s so powerful in the film that there is one particular hard to watch scene that may be the most heart-breaking scene of the year. It’s these performances that fuel the movie and have a big part in why the film is so effective.
Any fighting movie is incomplete without – you guessed it – fight scenes. And you would be happy to know that ‘Warrior’ more than delivers in that department. It’s thankfully not another boxing movie but an MMA movie which makes the fights just that much more intense. The fighting scenes here are extremely visceral with probably some of the best sound design in film this year. Every single punch and kick will make you cringe in the cinema and the movie has such brilliant fight choreography filled with reversals and high-flying moves when required. Every single fight in the competition has a unique flair to it and every opponent that the characters face brings something new to the table and the fight is won or lost with a different strategy. The finale in particular is a breathtaking and detailed fight sequence that is not only emotional due to the dramatic undercurrent lying around it but also how both the players are deciding to approach the fight in their own way. By the end of it all, it will feel like an epic piece of cinema despite being a grounded family drama at its core. And that’s no easy task to achieve.
‘Warrior’ is a powerful and brilliantly done drama that deserves to be seen in cinemas. It’s a gripping piece of cinema with excellent acting across the board and it’s a shame that it’s the underdog right now in terms of recognition because it packs a punch like no other.