‘Warrior’ challenges fighting movie norms, uses family ties

“Warrior”, directed by Gavin O’Connor, made international headlines and holds a special place in the hearts of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fans around the world. Released in theatres Sept. 9, the cast included talented actors Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton.

The film magnificently grasps the audience and takes you on an emotional journey from beginning to end, showing the eternal bond of family and how even the underdogs can overcome all odds.

The story follows two brothers and their tattered relationship with their reformed-alcoholic father, Paddy Conlon (Nolte). The younger brother, Tommy Conlon (Hardy), returns to his home after 14 years. The whereabouts of Tommy during those years remain a mystery and add an unexpected twist to the end of the movie.

In the opening dialogue between Tommy and Paddy, the family’s proverbial laundry is aired. Almost immediately the viewer is immersed into the overwhelming tension between the father and son. The reasons behind the tension remain ambiguous until the end.

Even though Tommy despises his father, they begin to train for an MMA competition, which awards the winner $5 million. Enter brother Brendan Conlon (Edgerton), a physics teacher. Brendan and his family are struggling to pay the bills and face foreclosure on their home.

Through strong will power and an undying love for his wife and children, Brendan begins to take local fights, and becomes as good as he was in his younger years. Brendan also seeks the title fight, unaware that his brother is after the same prize. Driven by circumstance and passion, the Conlon brothers reach the main event and ultimately face each other.

This story is driven solely on tension of a family torn apart by time and alcoholism. This is not a sob story. The plot entails universal truths and excellently frames the emotions of families who experience an alcoholic parent. Beyond anything, “Warrior” successfully engages the viewer, and, from the start, the emotional power never lets go.

The ambiguity concerning the characters’ pasts does not leave the audience wondering; on the contrary, it builds upon the emotions. Unlike most boxing or fight films where the main character obtains victory to inspirational music, this film breaks through clichés and brilliantly brings emotion, family and a brutal sport together.

While watching the film, the viewers became engaged, and a few times people cheered during the fight scenes. The cinematic quality is second to none, rewarding the audience with a feel of what it’s like to be in the Octagon. The cast truly succeeds in capturing the overwhelming emotions of a broken home and the struggle of becoming a top fighter.

I highly recommend “Warrior” to anyone who wants to be inspired in a new and interesting way.

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