Last week me and Mom went to see an advance screening of the cage fighting movie Warrior. I have not much to say about this movie other than it was AMAZING. The plot was pretty much:
There are two brothers in their mid 30’s who haven’t spoken in years. One lives with his family, wife with 2 kids, he is a teacher. The other just showed up for the first time in years; he is an ex-marine and starts communicating with his dad again. The two of them used to fight, and they start training again for the heck of it. Then they get the chance to participate in the ‘Superbowl of Cage Fighting’, AKA SPARTA, for a 5 million dollar prize.
It was a really, really good movie. Some parts are a little ridiculous, (If you see it, you’ll know exactly what I mean.) but that doesn’t matter because this movie is still awesome. Definitely in my Top 3 movies of all-time.
This movie would be good for anybody above the age of 13, maybe 12 or 11 depending on how mature your child is. If you don’t like watching people get hurt, definitely don’t see this movie. There are some parts that made the audience go “AWHHHH!!” There is some language in this movie, but not a ton. There are lots of tear-worthy moments in this movie. If you are a crier, and you don’t like crying in public, I recommend waiting for the DVD.
Ok. I’ll start by saying that I don’t like violent movies, I’m not much for really macho guy movies, and I don’t care for sentimental heartstring-pulling movies.
Warrior is all three, and I kid you not when I say it is a freaking incredible movie.
As Jake said, the basic plot here involves two brothers who compete in a winner-takes-all mixed martial arts championship; one for financial reasons, one for reasons unknown. Their styles and attitudes are completely different, and only one can win.
Look, I come from the land of Rocky; I know how the fighter movie formula works. Tough life, comeback kid. The twist on the formula here is that there are two comeback kids and you feel for both of them. The plot is, yes, very formulaic and completely unrealistic (two brothers enter to compete for the title of the world’s toughest man, 2 of 16 competitors worldwide, each unbeknownst to the other? And both of them had only resumed training in the last few months?) but it didn’t matter one bit. I really, really cared about these characters and what happened to them.
There’s very little blood spilled, which I very much appreciated. The camera gets right in there, though, and you’re hyper aware of the muscles straining and the HURT, even if your eye can’t quite follow the movement in the tangle of bodies. This movie made me appreciate the strength and stamina of the fighters, the psychology of voluntarily getting into the cage and just how amazing the human body is, without really glorifying the fighting.
The acting is great. The two leads were unknowns to me, and I liked it that way. They were convincing and tough and emotional and real and I loved them.
Jennifer Morrison, or as I like to call her, Cameron from “House” played the supportive wife, and I didn’t even realize it was her until halfway through. (She struck an argumentative, defiant pose that was her go-to stance for that character.) Nick Nolte made me cry, twice, and while I was unsatisfied with the resolution of the conflict between him (an ex-alcoholic with a history of violence) and his sons, I had to consider: is that sort of relationship ever really resolved? An uneasy peace is probably the best one can do.
It’s also set in the area: the brothers are in Pittsburgh and Philly, and the fight takes place in one of the Trump casinos in Atlantic City. (I admit my hand flew up of its own accord to point out the boardwalk Hard Rock Café to Jake. We were just there!)
Jacob and I have had a lot of interesting conversations since viewing the film: about alcoholism as a disease and your responsibility for your actions while under the influence; about forgiveness; about your upbringing and how it affects your lifeview; about loyalty, and about what family really means. About when you need to fight, and what it is that we are fighting for.
The irony is that with this family, fighting is what ultimately brings them together, and I’m still working out how I feel about that.
It really is a tremendous film– a sturdy plot, though it requires a willing suspension of disbelief (but that’s what movies are for, right?). Solid acting, believable dialogue, stellar cinematography. I can’t speak for the authenticity of the UFC or MMA elements, but that wasn’t important for me.
It’s not for kids, it earns its PG-13 rating for the emotionally difficult plot content and the brutal HURT, which happens on a lot of levels. But if you have older kids, it’s a great convo kickstarter.
And, you know. If you like really smokin’ hot men, the eye candy is pretty nice too. (It had to be said.)
Waiting for DVD would probably blunt some of the visual impact, making it an easier film to watch… but I think in many ways what makes it so effective was just how hard I was cringing through a large part of it.
Warrior hits theaters September 9th. I think you should be there.
Official plot summary:
Rising stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton command the screen as two estranged brothers facing the fight of a lifetime in Lionsgate’s WARRIOR, a moving, inspirational action drama from acclaimed director Gavin O’Connor (Miracle).
Haunted by a tragic past, Marine Tommy Conlon (Hardy) returns home for the first time in fourteen years to enlist the help of his father (Nick Nolte) to train for Sparta, the biggest winner-takes-all event in mixed martial arts history. A former wrestling prodigy, Tommy blazes a path toward the championship while his brother, Brendan (Edgerton), an ex-fighter-turned teacher, returns to the ring in a desperate bid to save his family from financial ruin. But when Brendan’s unlikely, underdog rise sets him on a collision course with the unstoppable Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront each other and the forces that pulled them apart, facing off in the most soaring, soul stirring, and unforgettable climax that must be seen to be believed.