Possibly the most violent sport out there today is mixed martial arts. Essentially it’s set up like boxing but the participants are allowed to use a variety of fighting techniques against one another. This is, of course, an extremely violent sport that is not for the squeamish…and neither is this movie. I am admittedly not a big fan of MMA (mostly because I don’t know much about it and it IS extremely violent) but I am a HUGE fan of this movie. It is the equivalent of “Rocky” for the modern day and it gives you not one, but 2 people to root for.

Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) was a drunken and angry man. He and his wife had 2 boys, both that he trained as their wrestling coach. Eventually she left him because of his violent tendencies and she took the youngest boy, Tommy (Tom Hardy…the future “Bane” in the upcoming Batman movie), with her. The oldest, Brendan (Joel Edgarton), was 16 at the time and married his high school sweetheart and left Paddy alone so he could start his own life.

Cut to modern day. Tommy has returned to Pittsburgh after being gone for many years. His mother has died and he wants to return to the ring to fight. His brother, not knowing that he has returned, has fallen upon bad economic times and must return to the ring in order to make extra cash to pay for his family’s home. Both men sign up for a MMA tournament in Atlantic City to fight for a $5 million prize. Will they make it to the finale to face one another? Will their father win their love & trust again after so many years of heartache and pain? These questions are all answered (sort of) and in dramatic fashion that is actually done better than the critically acclaimed “The Fighter” from last year. And as far as dramatic sports films are concerned, this is a movie that should get more recognition than it did.

I’m not sure if the title is something that kept critics away. Maybe it was the MMA theme that turned some off. But whatever the case, this is a top notch movie that kept me engrossed the entire time. All of the players involved are great. Nick Nolte is at the top of his game, Tom Hardy is brooding as the younger, more withdrawn brother and Joel Edgarton is a surprise talent that I have never seen before but he is a rock as the father who is fighting to keep his family from the streets.

Camera work and locations are perfect for this type of film and the soundtrack adds to the drama. Overall…this was a pleasant surprise and the title and poster art doesn’t do it justice. Where “The Fighter” sold itself as a drama, “Warrior” sounds like a B-grade action flick. This is anything but that. This is a top notch film that should have possibly gotten an Oscar nod for a couple of categories including possibly Best Picture.

Overall Rating: A


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