The Warrior (2011)

Director: Gavin O’Connor
Starring:Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Morrison. .USA. 2h 20m

Back in 2011 the warrior was quite a breakthrough movie for the time. While it remains an emotive glance into the lives behind the men in the ring, as does for MMA what the Wrestler did for.. wrestling I do wonder what the movie would be like if made today after the UFC explosion of talent and headline grabbing antics.

Undeniably The Warrior is a downbeat, hard hitting drama that’s meant to make it’s audience feel something, the three main characters all related and all with a common coldness in their hearts for one another. The father of two proud sons, Paddy Conlon (Nolte) spends his new sober awakening, reflecting on his younger drunker years where he abused and abandoned his family. Throughout the movie he works his way through the audiobook of Herman Melvills Moby Dick while trying to play dad but is it too little too late?. He’s estranged from his sons who are also estranged from each other making a massive triade of abandonment more bitter. His sons comprise of an army deserter Tom Conlon (Hardy), and the good guy high school tutor Brendan Conlon (Edgerton) who on the surface is a genuine level headed good guy but has to return to his roots as an MMA fighter to help pay the bills and stop his family losing their home. He starts out picking up some quick cash in a car park fight, amazing his students with a battered face and then getting kicked out of his role at the school, he goes for a big purse in a Winner Takes all royale with a $5 Million Purse, (because that’s what teachers do).

There’s not a lot of happiness in the movie, with all three men having so much to prove and a stern reluctance to ever back down, what starts as one guy down on his luck turns into a family showing ALL their ugly secrets and having to deal with their situation in the mannish way possible. Hardy hits out in his role with a viper tongue and a ton of brutish and bullying behaviour which he does so well!

Edgerton and Hardy both managed to wrack up a number of wounds in the ring from broken ribs to conclusion for their pleasure of sharing real ring time with a few real fighters and Kurt Angle who plays a stone faced Russian fighter Koba, an unusual choice but I’m not sure where MMA/UFC was in 2011 but Rashad Evans, Anthony Jonson and Nate Marquardt among a handful of other did turn up for some cinematic fame. I can only imagine now Saint Pierrer would turn up as he’s done so many roles now. After so many years of watching UFC I can only relate this to the Diaz brothers fighting each other after one stole the other’s supply of homegrown…

A majority of the film seems to be each man trying to outact everyone with a bigger more powerful scene as things progress, and surprisingly the most adept is Notle, his drunk/not drunk father role is definitely the more difficult, trying to come back to your family after being the sole reason for everything going wrong, attempt to keep off the booze and all at a time when both boys are fighting in a sort of MMA battle royale. He really has so much going on and yet every step of the way he’s believable.

With a blend of tough drama and vicious well choreographed fight scenes the movie transitions fast from something hard for the hear vs something hard for the soul. Gavin O’Connor spends a lot of time etching out each man’s moralistic path, and then makes them walk the long hard walk. Much Like Rocky or Randy (The Wrestler) this is another chapter in the life of a fighter, Rocky is the naive beginner, the Warrior is the meaty bit in the middle when a man is around his prime or returning, and getting further than The Fighter (2018) and the final closing chapter being the Wrestler, I feel that these films could make an interesting series as they all show a tangible life outside of the ring and the heart and soul that goes into a man who makes a living from bleeding.

I’ve watched the film a number of times and somehow, for some unknown reason I can NEVER remember how the final fight goes, but from the outset it’s clear who’s going to be in a match, two brothers with so much to prove, my life is worse than yours and I have more to fight from resonates from both of them, in the same fighting competition.. it’s a no brainer who will show up at the final but it’s only the gods or Gavin O’Connor who can justify who really deserves the win.

But despite the touch of melodramatics, the real tough conversations and ounce of overdoing it in the ring, the film, through it’s bokeh ring entries and narrow lense does pull it’s audience into the hearts and minds of three warriors all fighting their own battle alone when indeed they might have always have been stronger together? I do wonder that if they had sorted their shit out then surely it doesn’t matter, one brother could win and share the money.. sheesh..


Rating: 7/10

Related: The Fighter (2010), The Wrestler (2008), Rocky (1976), The Cage Fighter (2018)
Lists: A-Z of Fighter movies
Spotlight: Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton

Post Discussion


W,2011,usa, fight, fightbred, fighters, mma, ufc, fight movie, ring, octagon, father, son, brother, family, drunk, moby dick,


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