I don’t know much about about mixed martial arts (MMA), in fact everything I know I learnt from this film and I’d initially assumed the filmmakers had invented the sport for the movie.
So, my confession of ignorance safely on the record, Warrior is a film set within the violent world of MMA, a world two brothers decide to enter in order to win a hefty cash prize on offer to the victor in an all-comers fight.
Joel Edgerton is the older, settled brother with a nice family but whose middle class lifestyle is threatened by a lack of cash. Faced with repossession of the family home he enters a series of prize fights before trying out for the MMA tournament.
Tom Hardy is the younger of the pair, a brash Marine hero recently returned from combat and looking to make a quick buck so he can support the family of his dead comrade.
The brothers are estranged from one another and from their reformed alcoholic father, played by Nick Nolte. Though he’s supposedly the third lead, it’s Nolte who is the real star of this film.
When he’s on screen, the rest of the cast struggle to match his presence and several times I found myself focussing on what he was doing in the background while ignoring the action going on elsewhere.
At first glance Warrior is a fairly formulaic ‘fight move’ – two guys with pure motives fighting for causes they believe in and in the process examine their relationships with the people around them.
And it’s true that we’ve seen all the fight elements before, but intwined with these is a fairly nuanced emotional subplot about relationships, break-ups and the disappointments of childhood.
This part of the story is actually pretty powerful and elevates Warrior far above being just another film about kicking the other guy into oblivion.
Well worth a watch.
Warrior opens across the UK on Friday 23rd September with advance screenings from Wednesday