“Warrior.” It looks like a cliché boxing movie, it walks like an underdog story, and it talks like a brooding and complex drama. Director Gavin O’Conner (“Miracle” and “Pride and Glory”) sticks with what he’s good at with these unexpected victory type films. You might call it “one note,” I call it masterpiece after masterpiece. I’ll begin this review by saying I was taken off guard by good this was. Boxing movies like “Rocky” and “Ali” are filled with cliché moments and the outcomes are totally predictable. But O’Conner works his magic and gives you something completely different.
Writers: Gavin O’Connor (screenplay), Anthony Tambakis (screenplay), and 3 more credits »
Stars: Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte and Joel Edgerton
The general plot seems the same as all the others to begin with: a torn up family with clashing characters. The story takes place in Pennsylvania, and later in New Jersey. As you first watch, it looks like a white trash neighborhood; the perfect place for brooding fighters to shine. Tom Hardy (“Inception” and “Black Hawk Down”) is a Marine vet who crashes with his dead-beat dad (Nick Nolte) and goes to the gym every day. His brother, played by Joel Edgerton (“Animal Kingdom”), is a high school teacher who fights on the side to keep his family afloat. Both end up getting into the ring as underdogs. Both want the big cash prize for similar reasons. Yes, it all still sounds pretty cliché, but it gets better.
This isn’t a simple ring fighting flick, this is mixed martial arts. That means opponents can use any style of fighting that doesn’t include weapons. There’s a little bit for everyone in the audience: kickboxing, wrestling, I saw a little judo in there, and yes…there was some boxing. There are so many awesome fight moments that make the whole crowd go crazy. Both brothers have their own distinct style. One is definitely a beast, while the other is calculated and calm.
I wouldn’t say the music added anything. Composer Mark Isham is a skilled electronic musician, but there wasn’t a cheery song in the entire flick. Everything was dark and moody, although there was some impressive mixing with classical music. You’ll know it when you hear it.
What made “Warrior” different from all the other fighting movies is the fact that there are two underdogs. As you are watching, you don’t know which guy to root for. The motivation and back-story for both characters aren’t exactly clear until nearly the end. That added mystery keeps you very interested. It all leads to a big climactic fight and a very dynamic finale.
“Warrior” has something that both guys and girls can get into. I might even go as far as to say it could be a good date movie. It is a fantastic end of the summer movie.