In school we have been participating in BRAWLs(Battle.Royale.All.Will.Learn) and it got be thinking about my favorite type of film, fighting movies. History is filled to the brim with fighting movies, some of them are great, however, most of them are not. The genre is littered with unavoidable cliches, a man trains to be a champion, sometimes he loses, sometimes he wins, but no matter which way it ends, the audience is completely enthralled and is throwing punches right up along side the protagonist. Warrior is one of those great movies that come along once every blue moon.
There’s no need to dance around the subject, O’Connor, without a doubt, delivers one of the best fighting movies and one of the greatest films of 2011 with his movie, Warrior. Although the plot has some cliche points that are familiar to people who love tales of underdogs, the acting and the fight sequences make Warrior a champion both inside and outside the octagon. The film follows the stories of two brothers – war deserter Tommy Conlon, played by Tom Hardy, and ex-fighter turned physics teacher, Brendan Conlon, played by Joel Edgerton – in their chance at winning a worldwide MMA championship. There is animosity and hardships inside and outside of the ring as both brothers barely attempt to reconcile with their AA father and with each other. Brendan fights for his family and Tommy fights for his best friend’s wife, the stakes leading into the final match could not be any higher.
As mentioned before, the narrative of the film is very predictable and it plays out exactly how the audience would expect. However, all is not lost. Stellar performances along with beautiful character interactions makes even the most cliche elements extremely enjoyable to watch. The balance between character progression and uncertainty is a tricky one. O’Connor chose to put the characters first, immersing the audience in a believable atmosphere with believable people who happen to be participating in an unbelievable situation. He had to make the movie compelling, despite the fact that the majority of the audience could see what was going to happen next.
It certainly helps that the fights in Warrior are some of the most riveting and adrenaline-pumping fights that haven’t been seen on the big screen in a long time. O’Connor utilizes MMA fighting perfectly, capturing all the elements of fighting with a dance of fists and kicks. From brutality and strategy to variety and willpower, O’Connor is able to exceptionally portray core characteristics both in his characters and in the fighting. Portraying MMA fighting has never successfully been recreated on the big screen, but next to a ton of boxing movies such as The Fighter, Warrior provides a new take on an even newer sport. The fighting is action packed and is expertly coupled with character drama and choices, leading to excitement and cheering after every single punch.
In the end, the plot between Hardy and Edgerton’s characters is enough to let you leave the theater satisfied, even if minor characters and cliche conflicts are left over. Much like the protagonists it portrays, Warrior is a courageous and aggressive film that will keep the audience on the edge of the octagon, round after round. If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend you watch the film. The final act of the movie is definitely one of the most tear jerking and poetic scenes that I have ever seen. However, don’t take my word for it. Go watch it yourself.