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Set in the violent and merciless world of mixed martial arts combat, two brothers are at war with each other. Tom Conlon and older brother Brendan have pursued separate lives, but when Tom returns home to ask his father's help in preparing for a championship, events lead the siblings back into each other's paths. Warrior focuses primarily on the emotional elements between Tom, Brendan, and the father of the family. Both of the brothers have a reason for fighting in the Mixed Martial Arts Tournament, which makes this film one of the very few where the audience wants both brother to win the cash prize. This reward has a lot of moral value for what the money would be used for. Between the three characters, the audience explores Brendan's character the most. The filmmakers introduce not only his fighting life, but his family life and job as a teacher. Tom is seen mostly in his quiet, yet dangerous state and his father is constantly fighting for the forgiveness of his children due to his alcoholic behavior towards the family. Before Warrior even focuses on the fighting, the script creates character arches so that we actually care about what happens to them in the tournament. Once the actual fighting comes around, it's entertaining but a lot of the moves are repetitive and become a little bit dull. However, Tom's fighting sequences are more entertaining than Brendan's. While his brother's techniques are more thought out and all about wearing out his opponents, Tom is brute force as he walks in the ring and destroys everybody in his way. The ending is sure to split audiences. It's a bit of a tacky finale that won't win over all viewers.
One of the main reasons why I was interested in Warrior to begin with was the cast. The dramatic triad are played by Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, and Nick Nolte. Edgerton is convincing as Brendan. Tom Hardy performs as Tom, although we don't get to watch his character as often as Brendan. However, he still manages to capture the role quite well. When both actors are on screen together, they certainly dominate the scene. Nick Nolte isn't even one of the fighters, but he dominates the film as the mens' father. He has a certain presence on screen that isn't seen very often. The emotional impact delivered by Nolte is relentless and impressive. There aren't any bad performances seen in Warrior and it definitely enhances the more emotionally demanding scenes. A lot of the dialogue could have come off as very tacky, but this cast ensures that none of that happened.
There isn't very much to say about the visuals until the actual fighting takes place. The camera angles are up close and personal with all of the action. The filmmakers truly utilized every sense possible in order to create the complete immersive experience. The audio is absolutely exceptional. I personally found the track to be a little bit quiet, so be ready to turn this track up a little bit louder than your reference level. Lionsgate is one of the very few studios around to supply discs with both 5.1 and 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. Whether you have five speakers or seven, this film contains an intense soundtrack. Everything from grunts, smacks, and sounds from the crowd sounds utterly wonderful.
The chances that Warrior will get many Oscar nods are low. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see Nolte receive an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor. He surely is the most impressive aspect to this film. While it's an emotional powerhouse, it comes across as very familiar and uses every cliché known to this genre. Those who have seen The Fighter won't be able to allow it to go unnoticed that there are a lot of similarities between the two, but I think that this piece of cinema brings enough to the table to warrant a viewing. Warrior is an entertaining film that uses way too many clichés than the filmmakers would care to admit, although it still manages to be worthwhile.