‘Warrior’: A Thrilling Sports Drama that Transcends Cliché Through Brilliant Star Performances
“Warrior” (2011) is a thrilling and emotionally resounding sports drama starring Tom Hardy as Tommy Reardon and Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon, estranged brothers separated as children and raised in separate homes, only to be reunited as participants in a winner-takes-all mixed martial arts tournament.
A U.S. Marine veteran, Tommy returns to his original home in Pittsburgh to locate his aging father Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), a recovering alcoholic, to recruit him as his trainer in a bid to enter the MMA world professionally. While their partnership begins to form, Brendan works as a high school physics teacher and moonlights as an amateur fighter in order to provide for his family. Facing a newfound lien on his property by the bank, he’s forced to re-enter the professional circuit in a desperate bid to cover his mortgage and save his home.
The storyline follows their parallel training regiments as they prepare to enter the “Sparta” MMA middleweight championship in Atlantic City, where Tommy will ultimately showcase his brute strength and utter savagery, while Brendan exhibits his guile as a scrappy and tenacious tactician—Brendan serving as an unheralded underdog throughout the tournament as his students and loved ones cheer him on raucously.
Co-written and directed by Gavin O'Connor (“Miracle”, “Pride & Glory”), “Warrior” is a dynamic sports drama that transcends it’s borderline clichéd storyline (replete with various sports-film tropes) by way of O'Connor’s steadfast direction and the sheer magnitude of its three stars’ performances. Hardy, Edgerton and Nolte all deliver searing portrayals of true-to-life competitors and hard-striving souls, bringing enormous humanity and passion to the entire proceedings. It’s a highly recommended triumph-of-the-human-spirit affair that features a healthy dose of true heart and soul.
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