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Settling down to watch the other night, I had already made my mind up hat I would enjoy this film. I expected it couldn't be too far from The Wrestler and The Fighter both of which I absolutely loved. I'm not a fighting fan by any stretch of the imagination and being a typical girl usually wince at every punch, however I have liked the style of the two mentioned films, in that they focus on whats going on emotionally in the lives of fighters and why they have chosen this path in life.
Settling down to watch a film last night, I had already made my mind up that I would enjoy this film. I expected it couldn't be too far from The Wrestler and The Fighter both of which I absolutely loved. I'm not a fighting fan by any stretch of the imagination and being a typical girl usually wince at every punch, however I have liked the style of the two mentioned films, in that they focus on what's going on emotionally in the lives of fighters and why they have chosen this path in life.
When this film first started I have to admit I was a little disappointed. It was, in my opinion, quite slow to get going, although my husband disagreed and told me it was just introducing the characters. We were initially introduced to Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy), who straight away came across as a very complex character. He goes to visit his father (Nick Nolte) and there is obviously a lot of history here with Tommy holding a massive grudge against his father. I have to admit, I switched off here for about five minutes, although I got the general gist of what they were talking about, I found it to just drag on a little too long. Once the film gets past this stage I soon started to like it and we are introduced to Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) who is a Physics teacher in a high school. He seems a totally different character to Tommy, and is settled and seems happy with the way his life is going. It quickly becomes apparent that the two men are brothers. Brendan is facing foreclosure on his house and is desperate not for that to happen and to raise the money he needs in order to stop it going through in 90 days. This is when we learn that, despite Brendan's squeaky clean image, he is a former UFC cage fighter, as Brendan turns to fighting in amateur fighting in order to raise the money.
I quite liked the way in which the film follows Brendan for 10 minutes or so and then skips back to Tommy, so you are constantly drip fed information, leaving you wanting to know more all the time. While Brendan is desperate to try and save his family home, there doesn't seem to be an underlying story with Tommy who just seems desperate to fight. He soon becomes a you tube sensation when he knocks out Pete 'Mad Dog' Grimes who is expected to become the middleweight champion of the world. It is at this point that the film introduces the Sparta tournament in Atlantic City in which the last man standing of 16 mixed martial arts fighters will win $5 million.
I thought this film was excellent. The camerawork was really good, as was the acting which I always find astounding when actors film roles such as this where they are basically taking on characters that have devoted their whole lives to the sport. Hardy and Edgerton were excellent actors but the fighting just puts it in a different class. Some of the moves they perform had me wide eyed (and flinching!). Both Edgerton and Hardy suffered injuries during production with Hardy breaking his toe, finger and several ribs, while injuries to Edgerton halted fighting scenes for six weeks. The men look fantastic too and while the men will most likely be watching the fighting, the women will perhaps be watching the amazing bodies!
I really really enjoyed this film, but I did guess what was going to happen after about a quarter of the film had passed. I knew where the film was heading but I also guessed more detailed aspects of the film. While this didn't bother me, it may be frustrating for some viewers. One thing that I did like was a story about Tommy which only surfaces half way through the film but takes us right up to the finale. This explained some of his behaviour and made the film more credible, rather than just having a stereotypical angry fighter we knew the reasoning behind this. The film and the fighting was 100% believable and the characters who played in the fight scenes added to this. One of the fighters (Koba) is introduced as an Olympic Gold medallist in the film, which is also true of the actor, Kurt Angle, who plays Koba, which again makes the film more credible.
The Blu-ray extras on the disc make this version more worthwhile getting with special features such as: Bringing warrior to life, deleted scenes, blu-ray enhanced viewing mode and feature audio commentary.
Running time: 140 minutes.
Release Date: 23 September 2011.
Praise for the film:
'All the Rocky's rolled into one' - Shortlist.
'Inspirational' Men's Fitness.