Actually, I get why you may not have watched WARRIOR (2011).
It’s an MMA film; UFC for those who enjoy the commercialised version of the sport (still the same f*cking brutal spectacle though). That and it’s title, Warrior, may have just crawled under the radar because it doesn’t really SCREAM at you.
BUT IT SHOULD.
I have a suite of films in my memory-banks that I call “Definitive Sport Films“. While some are overcrowded, such as American Football (Remember The Titans, We Are Marshall, The Blind Side etc.), there’s a few per category that fill them out and, as I said, define them.
ALI. The Wrestler. Invictus. Bend It Like Beckham. GOON. Space Jam.
Probably a multitude of other films personal to each viewer and sport, but Warrior…Warrior is a film I feel everyone should watch regardless of their investment in MMA or the UFC.
From the get-go, you can understand it’s an absolute POWERHOUSE, because you see this in its 2 leads;
Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton.
Joined by the likes of Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Kevin Dunn, Maximiliano Hernández and freakin’ Frank Grillo because HELL YEAH, the commitment to having a cast who delivers is checked off in heavy red. And oh, Kurt Angle is in it too.
Tied together by Director and Writer, Gavin O’Connor, who you may know now as the guy who did The Accountant, we see a story that first punches you in the heart and then the face.
Telling the story of 2 brothers, Tommy (Hardy) and Brendan (Edgerton), who are at differing stages in their lives, we join them as they find themselves again through THE FIGHT, but it’s honestly more complex than that. It’s about the struggles of the middle-class, and PTSD. That PTSD also comes in the form of growing up in a broken house and in war.
IT. IS. COMPLEX.
This is of course what the stellar cast is responsible for, and boy do they absolutely deliver. Hardy is already renowned for changing his physicality for the role, but he and Edgerton go to town with their metamorphosis throughout the production. None more-so reflected in the freakish BULK Hardy takes on versus Edgerton’s cut when putting another fighter into a submission come the film’s conclusion. Honestly, the changes aren’t just mental, they’re physical too and it’s WILD.
Fight scenes that are brutal and calculated, continue to reflect this distance that has grown between the brothers and threatens to explode outward, driving conflict between Tommy and their estranged father, and Brendan and his wife, Tess.
As this dichotomy perpetuates across the film, it concludes in this moment that threatens to drown out cheering crowds through sheer emotion. The sheer will of 2 men, 2 brothers, put to odds and having to break down one another physically to understand one another emotionally is another sweet ribbon on another topic we continue to breakthrough, slowly but surely;
Yeah, I f*cking went there, but so did the brothers. Each caught in their own worlds, separated by paths the other couldn’t forge or choose to see, which ends up making them lose sight of what they ultimately could gain from the other.
And that’s what the sort of snap-ending represents. As the noise is dulled by their sense of being with the other, as they give in to this bond while the lights go down and they push everyone away, it’s there they find what they needed from the other.
And you’re goddamned right that I love that it was a message hidden amongst a tonne of people getting knocked the f*ck out. Cause that’s just isn’t it?
You get knocked down, you get up. You get up and look to your family for help and you fight again.
Because you’re a WARRIOR.
XENOJAY.COM re-reviewed this film as it’s now on Netflix NZ. Please do watch it.