Warrior is in the vein of 2008’s The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, as well as 2010’s The Fighter with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, with a little bit of 2005’s Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger. Does that make sense to you? Because if it does…you’re in my brain.
The Conlon’s are a fucked up family. Both brothers hate their father, Paddy, played by Nick Nolte (The Thin Red Line, Cape Fear, 48 Hrs.). When they were growing up he was abusive to their mother and a raging alcoholic. When it came to the older Brenan, played by Joel Edgerton (The Thing, King Arthur, Animal Kingdom), Paddy had no interest in him. All of his interest was in Tommy, played by Tom Hardy (Inception, Bronson, This Means War). Tommy was the champion athlete. When they were still teenagers Tommy and his mother fled their father. From the east coast to the west coast. Brendan was supposed to go with them, but he stayed behind for a girl, Tess, played by Jennifer Morrison (“House,” “Once Upon a Time,” Star Trek). Tommy had to take care of his mother as she died, and then he joined the Marines, like his father. We learn all of this as the movie progresses, but I’m not really spoiling anything, so I’m going to fast forward to the present. Tommy suddenly appears at his father’s house, drunk. Paddy hasn’t had a drink in 3 years, he’s trying to make amends. Brendan and Tess have a few kids. Brendan is a high school physics teacher. Tommy goes to the gym to work out and sees about this event called “Sparta” wherein 16 men will fight four fights in two days. The victor will win a five million dollar purse, and the designation of being a real world champion. Tommy decides to do it, and he hires his father to be his trainer. Only, he wants nothing to do with him. He only wants him to train him. Brendan’s family is about to lose their house. He’s started fighting amateur bouts for extra cash when he too hears about “Sparta.” He used to be a UFC fighter, and he goes back to his old trainer to train him for it.
I don’t want to go into detail about the tournament or how they even get there. That’s the real meat of the story. Their back-story. Despite how dark and depressing it is, isn’t really that important. The only thing you need to know is that Tommy hates his brother with the same passion that he hates his father. Brendan hates his father, but he loves his brother. There ya go.
The tournament is pretty awesome. To see the distinction and differences between the two brothers in the ring is sweet. Also there is more character development as the tournament progresses that is pretty damn amazing and important.
The movie is written and directed by Gavin O’Connor. I really feel that I need to give this guy a shout out. In 2004 he wrote and directed a movie called Miracle starring Kurt Russell. That was a rag to riches story of the U.S. Olympic hockey team defeating the amazing Russian team in the 1980 Olympics. In 2008 he wrote and directed the film Pride and Glory starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell. That was a movie with strong family ties that details the differences in an individuals moral compass. The guy can write drama well, and he knows how to direct it to make it inspirational and heart breaking.
Warrior is an awesome movie. If you want to see a Karate Kid like story for adults. I feel the need to also mention that Kurt Angle (Olympic Gold Medal winner in wrestling, WWE wrestler, River of Darkness) plays the main villain in this one. I think he deserves a nod.