“Warrior” packs a powerful and sometimes emotional punch

In the sports movie genre, the predictability factor of movies could be a turn-off for some moviegoers who have seen thousands of movies that always end with either the underdog winning or losing only to learn a valuable lesson. I believe that as long as the movie is entertaining, then predictability should not matter at all.

Warrior” may be predictable by sports-movie standards, but it an entertaining a film that not only focuses on the ferocious in-ring action, but it makes you care about the main characters and the problems they have.

Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy Reardon (Tom Hardy) are estranged brothers who come from different backgrounds despite being raised in the same household. Brendan is a high-school teacher, a family man and a former MMA fighter who is struggling to make ends meet.

Tommy is a former Marine who reconnects with his alcoholic father Paddy (Nick Nolte) with the intention having his father train him for an upcoming MMA tournament in Atlantic City.

What Brendan and Tommy don’t know is that they have put themselves on a collision course to face each other in the tournament where they will take their unstable emotions for one another in the ring with them.

Director Gavin O’ Connor (“Miracle”) does a great job introducing the character without overloading the first hour with a lot of exposition in terms of the characters’ background and how they became the men they are now. O’ Connor not only manages to make this story very compelling because of the family/brother drama, but enthralling with the nicely shot and well-choreographed MMA fight sequences.

The performances in this film by Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte are truly are the best three performances to been seen in a single film this year.

Both Edgerton and Hardy are terrific as the feuding brothers with different approached to their fighting style. While Edgerton embodies his character as a calm and efficient fighter, Hardy’s character is fueled by rage and he has a more animalistic approach to his character’s behavior both in and out of the ring.

When they finally go toe-to-toe with each other in the ring, their fighting styles mesh together to make the final match of the film an emotional and brutal scene. Nick Nolte delivers his best performance in a while as the father of the two brothers and a former alcoholic who is trying to reunite his sons despite their troubled past.

Like “The Fighter”, the focus on the action in the ring and the characters in “Warrior” are equally balanced. However, there are major differences between the two films. While “The Fighter” was based on a true story that also happened to be an extraordinary boxing movie, “Warrior” is entirely fictional and where Mixed Martial Arts becomes a primary focus on the silver screen for the first time since 2008 where moviegoers got their first taste of the sport with the release of David Mamet’s “Redbelt” and Orlando-set “Never Back Down”.

If this movie is successful and generates enough word-of-mouth, this movie could make MMA even more popular than ever just like how “Rocky” made the sport of boxing interesting and popular again.

“Warrior” also mirrors real life with some of the characters that may be familiar to fans of Ultimate Fighting Championship; some of the characters that reminds me of Dana White and Brock Lesner.

The Dana White-esque character is a man who organizes an event to find out who is the toughest fighter on the planet and the Brock Lesner-like character is a seemingly unbeatable and undefeated Russian fighter, played by former World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler Kurt Angle.

Far from an ordinary sports movie, “Warrior” is one of the best movies of the year that manages to successfully become both a family drama and an exciting sports film with great performances from Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte.

“Warrior”: 5 stars out of 5

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