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Mixed martial arts (MMA) is currently the fastest-growing sport in the world. Largely thanks to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a sport that used to be restricted to Las Vegas casinos and underground fight circuits is now a major deal that is televised internationally. So, with MMA grappling its way into the public eye, there is no better time for a movie like Warrior to emerge.
At its shallowest, Warrior is a modern rewrite of the 'zero to hero' fairytale - a carbon copy of Rocky superimposed onto a shiny new vehicle. At least, that was my opinion before I saw the film. Warrior follows the journeys of two MMA fighters on their road to the top. The two fighters, who happen to be brothers, are both competing in the fictional 'Sparta' tournament in order to win a huge cash prize, which they both require for charmingly selfless reasons. Meanwhile, their once-abusive father is trying desperately to rebuild the bridges between him and his formidable offspring; which is no easy feat. Oh, and before you ask - yes, there will be a montage.
When writing a sports underdog movie, the hardest task must be crafting a different film to its predecessors. The genre is rife with clichés, many of which are vital to the progression of the plot. Generally, to make a sports underdog film in the 36 years since Rocky smashed the box offices, is to offer a sacrificial lamb to the critics. Warrior takes the risks, and they pay off in its favour.
Where this film succeeds is not in avoiding the genre clichés, but rather in approaching them from a unique angle. At no point will you find Warrior cheesy. Instead of pretentiously cringing at lame one-liners or depthless, stereotyped characters, you can save your genuine cringes for some of the brutal fight scenes that occur towards the end of the film. Trust me, you'll need them! Warrior is gritty and real. the characters are not just emotionally scarred, some of them are broken beyond repair.
None more so than Tom Hardy, who plays Afghanistan war veteran, Tom Conlon. Hardy shines exceptionally as an introverted powerhouse who wants nothing to do with his estranged father (Nick Nolte). Out of the cage, Hardy is tortured by the memories of his military service, and he seeks to win the fight tournament so he can donate the $5million prize money to his brother-in-arm's widowed family. But before your cliché -detectors deafen you with blaring sirens, let me reassure you that there will be no overdone battle flashbacks or diving to the ground at backfiring cars - Tom Conlon's battle scars are buried deep, and he makes sure they stay that way. His rock-hard personality doesn't end outside the cage. Once the octagon doors lock, he fights with a frighteningly animalistic rage - tearing through his opponents with viciously brutal striking and thunderous power. If you had any doubts about Hardy's physical presence in the next Batman film as Bane, then let this movie dispel them. Bruce Wayne ought to be terrified.
The counterweight to Hardy's aggressive loner comes in the form of his older brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton). Edgerton's role is the empathetic family-man; a former UFC fighter who traded his gloves in for a lab coat when he became a high school physics teacher. "Force equals mass time acceleration", Edgerton helpfully reminds us - although we are shown plenty of adrenaline-fuelled examples of Newton's law later on. The physics teacher is driven to strap on his gloves once again when the bills pile up and he is threatened with imminently losing the family home. Once the opportunity arises to enter the 'Sparta' tournament, Edgerton knows that in order for his wife and daughters to have a home, he must break some faces.
While Hardy and Edgerton both give very convincing performances, they are almost overshadowed by the most powerful and memorable performance in the film; that of Nolte. The septuagenarian actor plays the role of the father of the two warriors - a man who turned his whole family against him through alcoholism and abuse, and now seeks forgiveness and redemption as a born-again Christian. Nolte, as the brothers' childhood aggressor, has now become the suffering victim of his own abuse. He desperately wants contact with his sons and his grandchildren, but receives practically no sympathy other than that of the viewer. Arguably the most moving scene in the film is portrayed by this outstanding actor; it involves Nolte, Hardy and a Moby Dick audiobook - which sounds ridiculous, but Nolte will bring you to tears.
Warrior is a strong addition to the sports underdog movie club. The script sets a meaningful base to the film; crafting a powerful story and developing memorable characters. In fact, it does this so successfully that towards the end you'll feel that it's earned the forty-five minutes of ferocious high-impact fighting that is about to throw at you.
Film review of Warrior
Warrior 2011 Directed and produced by Gavin O'Connor
Running time 140 minutes
Warrior is a film that appealed to me from the start. I have always liked the Rocky films and this brings back memories of the first one. It is a gritty story that packs a punch without getting caught up in all the glitz and glamour of so many films these days.
Tommy (Tom Hardy) is an ex marine who has seen better days to fair he seems to be looking for something and fighting appears the way he may find what he is searching for. After joining a gym he see's an advert for the Sparta tournament, which is a mix of boxing and martial arts - right up his street.
The story goes through Tommy's journey to the tournament but cleverly sneaks in and out of a few other story lines too.
The first is his dad - bring in Nick Notle - a now ex drunk who was a nightmare farther and husband but as it turns out a brilliant coach and that is how the pair re-connect. The relationship is a tenuous one and not straight forward as in the film memories are hauled out and maybe forgiveness is wanted but not necessarily given.
The brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) who is doing well or so it seems to the outside, a teacher and family man but can he leave his past behind him? Or does he need his past to reconnect with his future?
I loved this film and watched it from start to finish enjoying every minute and would happily do so again.
It is quite violent in the sense that it is based upon boxing, mixed martial arts and cage fighting; but that said I have seen a lot more violent films and I guess this is why it is rated a 15 in the UK.
It is more of a guy film I guess due to the subject matter but girls if you do watch it plenty of muscle bound eye candy in the cage! And guys not to be left out - Brendan's wife is played by the lovely Tess Conlon.
Like I said before it has that Rocky type feel about it where the down on his luck guy fights to prove himself and improve his future. With the effects in the film being not so glamorous, a lot is shot in darker scenes especially at the beginning it gives you that sense of trouble ahead, which I like.
The ending was a little too abrupt for me, it worked but I would have liked a little bit more. They let you know where the characters are going but it might have been nice to see some more of it.
So who is going to win the tournament of Sparta? And what will happen after it? You will have to watch it and see!
Avaliable on LoveFilm, Blockbusters to rent and to buy on Amazon and Ebay plus other shops for about £5 and £10 if you want Blu-ray.
Review maybe posted on dooyoo and ciao under the same username.
Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy) is a man on a mission. The world's biggest ever Mixed Martial Arts tournament SPARTA is taking place, with a cool five million dollar purse waiting for the winner and nothing but the bitter taste of defeat for the losers. Former marine and wrestling champ Tommy isn't entering just to make up the numbers. A sworn promise he made to provide for a fallen comrades family hangs heavy over the brooding Tommy. He's in it to win it. Unfortunately there are a few major obstacles standing between him and his glittering prize.
He takes care of entry to the tournament by a ruthless demolition of professional fighter Pete "Mad Dog" Grimes (Erik Apple) in a local gym in less than 30 seconds. The annihilation is caught on film and uploaded to the internet where it instantly goes viral, catapulting Tommy into notoriety and assuring his entry into the tournament. Unfortunately for Tommy, loose cannon Grimes has also entered SPARTA and has revenge firmly entrenched on his mind.
Tommy needs a trainer and only the best in the business will do. He needs an expert in the field who knows him inside out and knows just the man, a reformed alcoholic, womaniser and wife beater named Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte in an Academy Award nominated performance) who also happens to be Tommy's estranged father. Paddy has turned his life around and found God, but can he find a champion in Tommy?
Also standing in Tommy's way is the fearsome beast from the east Koba (Kurt Angle) the undefeated reigning champion. The ultimate MMA fighter has never fought on US soil and the relentless Russian has no intention of relinquishing his title without a fight.
Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton), Tommy's older brother is a former fighter turned physics teacher who finds himself on the brink of financial disaster. His daughter's medical bills have resulted in his house being repossessed in 3 weeks, leaving the Conlon family homeless. Suspension without pay from his teaching job proves the final straw for Brendan. Despite being on the wrong side of thirty he is forced to go back to his pugilistic roots and return to the world of MMA. When a SPARTA contestant at his gym is forced to pull out due to injury, he convinces gym owner Frank (Frank Grillo) to reluctantly enter him as a last minute replacement. Going against the wishes of loving wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) he seizes his chance at a shot at the big time. It's the last throw of the dice for Brendan.
A bitter family feud has kept the two brothers apart for fourteen long years but all that is about to change forever. A chain of events is set in motion, propelling both the brutal Tommy and committed family man Brendan on a seemingly inevitable journey towards an explosive and emotional reunion in the ring and a clash between their two contrasting styles. In SPARTA, however, there can only be one winner.
I saw this film at the Cinema when it was released, and with the new Batman film out where Tom Hardy is the villain Bane, it reminded me how much I loved his performance in this film and so I bought this DVD on ebay for £8.78 with free delivery (not bad!)
The plot consists of a tale of two brothers, torn apart by their alcoholic but now sober father and both with their own agendas when entering the mixed martial arts competition for the $5,000,000 cash prize. On one hand we have Brendan Conlon, the eldest brother (played by Joel Edgerton) who is a physics teacher struggling to pay his mortgage after his daughter has heart problems and him and his wife work 3 jobs to try and pay her medical bills having remortaged his house twice. He has 3 weeks to come up with money or they will have to sell the home and perhaps face bankruptcy.
On the other hand we have the troubled, (and SEXY!) younger brother Tommy Riordan (played by Tom Hardy) who used to be in the Army but leaves and abandons his duties once his close friend and brother is killed in friendly fire. He has pledged the money to help his friend's widow look after their children in Mexico. Tommy returns to Pittsburgh after he left when he was younger with his mother to escape their drunken father, but his mother has since passed and he has returned not to build bridges but simply for the now sober father Paddy (played by Nick Nolte) to be his trainer and help him win the MMA comp.
Both brothers are underdogs in the competition and from the outset Tommy is the firm favourite, with his hot headed, but non-arrogant attitude to fighting. He simply wants to win to keep his promise to his friend and do what's best. Of course, physics teacher Brendan is looked upon as a fluke as he manages to will his way through the competition to the final, where of course it is revealed that they are brothers going head to head for the prize. Brendan of course needs the money as he will be homeless with his wife and 2 kids, so his pupils are all vying for his victory. I won't say who wins as I don't want to spoil the film completely but I have to say I was disappointed at the winner!
The acting in this film is brilliant and I have to say in the final scene I was even bawling like a baby! The emotion between the 2 brothers is vivid and strong and both actors are amazing at conveying their feelings towards each other and expressing how siblings can be torn apart by a tumultuous childhood as neither understands the other's point of view.
The film is shot quite darkly, with a lot of scenes me squinting to get a long lusting look at Tom Hardy haha. My crush aside though, the scenes have a lot of authenticity in terms of the fighting skills and experience and the actors do an astounding job at portraying their characters fighting capabilities to perfection.
I watched the DVD extras in which there are scenes which were removed from the film, involving Tommy and Paddy in the diner, discussing why Tommy left the army. There are also light hearted gag reels which are amusing to see, and an extra showing how they choreographed the final fight scene between the two brothers and shows Joel and Tom practising their fight and how the screen shot compares to storybook outline of the final scene which is really interesting to see.
Overall I loved this film and would definitely recommend it! It is a bit cliche and I am sure the storyline is a regurgitated one of earlier fight films but nevertheless it will appeal to audiences with an interest in mixed martial arts and fighting and just for women like me who like to perve over a hottie! It is a 15 which I think is appropriate as there is some strong language, although absolutely nothing of a sexual nature (as much as I'd hoped I'd see Tom in some kind of action in that area!) but some of the fighting scenes are a bit violent so I definitely wouldn't recommend it for any young eyes!
Star - Nick Nolte
Run Time - 140 mins
Certificate - 12a
Country - USA
Awards - One Oscar nomination
Rental - £3.00 per night at Blockbuster
Warrior will be a huge word of mouth hit, that there's no doubt, a film that did nothing in the box-office due to poor promotion and distribution but was kick started, if you excuse the pun, by a healthy niche following from the mostly young fans of it mixed martial arts, the films themes, its joyous embrace of sporting cliché accelerating its popularity even more and so garnering mainstream appeal, earning it an impressive 8.0 rating on IMDB so far, very rare for a sports movie centered around such a relatively underground sport.
The last time I saw Joel Edgerton, the star of Warrior, was in Northampton, where he was filming Kinky Boots, a rather tiresome Brit Flick that was as dull as Northampton, some feat, the two of us queuing up at the catering van, yours truly working as a wriger for the week. In that movie he played a timid shoe factory owner and cut that exact figure when he was getting his bangers and mash, whereas here he is cut in a very different way and in great shape for the superb fight scenes, very much fitting that now vacant Dennis Quaid role after this. When he took this film I bet neither he or the filmmakers thought this film would be as good as it is with him in it. Warrior is a movie you need to see guys.
* Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon
* Tom Hardy as Tommy Conlon / Riordan
* Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon
* Jennifer Morrison as Tess Conlon
* Frank Grillo as Frank Campana
* Kevin Dunn as Joe Zito
* Vanessa Martinez as Pilar Fernandez
* Noah Emmerich as Dan Taylor
* Denzel Whitaker as Stephon
* Maximiliano Hernández as Colt Boyd
* Fernando Chien as Fenroy
* Kurt Angle as Koba
* Erik Apple as Pete "Mad Dog" Grimes
* Nate Marquardt as Karl "The Dane" Kruller
* Anthony Johnson as Orlando "Midnight" Le
* Dan "Punkass" Caldwell as Himself
* Timothy "Skyskrape" Katz as Himself
Thirty something physics teacher Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) have to work two jobs to keep the house, behind with the payments and young kids to take care of. But Brendan is keeping a big secret from his wife, his night job not bouncing at a local biker bar but fighting for prize money, a UFC mix martial arts fighter in his previous life who trained to be an educator and now taking unlicensed fights in pub car parks to make those payments. But when he turns up at school with a big black eye and one of his students reveals he saw him fighting the night before he is suspended from school and so no choice but to tell his wife on what's really going on and how bad things are.
Brendan has a distant brother, the enigmatic and brooding Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy), not using his maiden name for reasons that you will learn later, appearing out of nowhere back in town. Both brothers were champion college wrestlers under the coaching of their father (Nick Nolte) but the family fell apart through pops boozing and no-one on good terms today. Tommy also has designs on a career in mixed martial arts, and when he beats up the big contender for the coming world championships with a brutal dismissal whilst sparring in the local gym, a bystander films it on their camera phone and it ends up on YouTube, going viral and getting him noticed, and by some people he would rather not know where he is.
Brendan decides to take the fighting more seriously, training with his old UFC pal Joe Zito (Kevin Dunn), who runs a swanky gym for the top fighters, he and Tommy soon having designs on a place in a winner takes all fighting competition in Atlantic City, the 'SPARTA', hoping it will fix their financial and emotional woes, offering unification off all the belts and five million to the last man standing, attracting over from Russia the supreme champ, Koba ( Kurt Angle), unbeatable for seven years.
Tommy decides dad is the best person to train him, secretly a chance to mend their relationship. But with Tommy battling his demons and hiding his past he is unable to make up emotionally with dad, or his big brother, and when both win places in the competition it's inevitable that they will have to settle it all in the ring as the tournament nears.
The dust cover makes bold claims on it being the next 'Rocky', after half-an-hour that somewhat laughable, but once the back stories and characters have been fleshed out this movie really goes through the gears to its tumultuous ending, a powerful soundtrack by Mark Isham just adding extra punch and tension to the drama. It is a belter!
Nick Nolte earned a welcome Oscar nomination for his version of Rocky Balboa's beaten down trainer Micky whilst Tom Hardy is simply superb as the brooding angry underdog ready to snap, like the bones of his opponents from his brutal punches and kicks, the thug that most boxers are. Joel Edgerton's casting did surprise me for this type of movie though, until you realize where the script is emotionally going. In the finale you will experience that texture to full effect and something you probably haven't in a film before. It is a pretty unique scene.
This is a movie you have to be patient with for it to reward you, unlike The Fighter, that one bagging more Oscar attention on the same prize fighter themes but was rather flat like the Irish boxers noses it featured. Although there are no flat noses here - rather unrealistically - there's plenty of what sports underdog movies should be about, this one punching above it weight (sorry, I had to). Some unneeded America jingoism around the Iraq war did sneak in but the emotional heart of the story is a father and son one and that ramps this up even more as far as the big movie experience goes.
The movie ticks all the boxes, a multiracial group hug with the science teachers supportive and well behaved kids coming straight from a Benetton commercial, helping to sell the film around the world, mixed martial arts ever increasing global popularity clearly exploited here, this, the first big budget Hollywood movie to have a crack at that Ultimate Fighting market, learning about the sport another aspect of the enjoyment here. But ultimately it's a cracking sports movie that doesn't worry about how close it adheres to cliché to get a cheap reaction, only doing it in a way that just grabs you. For some reason Americas are the only ones who can do this type of movie and again they nailed it here. It's a knockout!
Imdb.com - 8.2/10.0 (90,245 votes)
Rottentomatos.com - 84% critic's approval
Metacritic.com -71% critic's approval
The Guardian -'Hardy's physicality here is something to behold: you wonder how many personal trainers he worked his way through to get those neck muscles'.
The LA Times - 'The movie is so skillfully made, and the performances are so convincingly real (Hardy is sensational), that, as it reaches its cathartic, winning finish, it achieves a surprising compassion and honesty'.
The Melbourne Age - 'Warrior is an unbelievably effective film, not just because it's emotionally rich, but because it doesn't treat the MMA sport like a joke'.
The Times -'Warrior is a superbly acted and emotional film about manhood, family and never submitting to life's beat downs'.
The New Yorker -'Trumping even genre classic Rocky, Warrior packs a grand emotional wallop thanks to top-tier performances and the fact that you don't want either fighter to lose'.
Intro and Info:
Warrior is a sports drama action film that was made in 2011. The film was directed by Gavin O'Connor who hasn't directed many films but he did direct Pride and Glory and Miracle. He also produced the film along with his brother Greg O'Connor. The Screenplay was written by Gavin O'Connor
Cliff Dorfman, and Anthony Tambakis. The film was made on a budget of 25 million dollars but it only grossed a little over 23 million dollars and so it never broke even but it was close. On the IMDB website the film is rated 8.3 out of 10 based on just under 80,000 votes.
Tommy Conlon (played by Tom Hardy) unexpectedly visits his dad's house to speak to him after he has been in Iraq fighting as a soldier, he learns that his once drunken and abusive father Paddy (played by Nick Nolte) is now a Christian and has changed his ways but Tommy doesn't believe him. Tommy then goes to a gym to train, but he asks to fight a professional MMA fighter who has been training for Sparta a tournament for 5 million dollars. Unexpectedly Tommy wins the fight in 30 seconds and the fight is filmed and becomes a viral hit, and so Tommy is also entered into the Sparta tournament by a trainer.
Meanwhile Tommy's older brother Brendan (played by Joel Edgerton) is struggling to pay his bills and provide for his family and so he fights at night against amateur MMA fighters but even with his full time job as a physics teacher and his extra money earnt by fighting he can't raise enough money and so he has 90 days to pay off his debts or he will lose his house. Brendan then goes to his old friend who trains him and gets him into Sparta. Both brothers soon have to fight the best MMA fighters in Sparta to get to the final and win the 5 million prize.
 Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon
 Tom Hardy as Tommy Conlon / Riordan
 Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon
 Jennifer Morrison as Tess Conlon
 Frank Grillo as Frank Campana
 Kevin Dunn as Joe Zito
 Kurt Angle as Koba
Good points and Bad Points:
With this film being a Drama and action there wasn't much use of CGI and special effects, they were used in some certain parts and scenes in the film to show certain things but they weren't used much.
The Special effects in the film when it was used also were very detailed and very realistic when it was used which also makes the film look better and in my opinion. I also thought that the direction in the film was very good and the fight scenes were very realistic which must have been hard to capture and also all of the scenes ran well together.
The picture quality was very good which is to be expected nowadays and so was the sound quality and so pretty much what I expected from a film that was released only a year ago I was surprised to how realistic the sound effects were with the punches and in the fight scenes. Because the film is 140 minutes long it is a long film but in my opinion I thought it was easily watchable and the film is very entertaining and the film's story doesn't fell stretched.
The acting was very good which although there were a few known actors in the film like Tom hardy there were a few actors that I'd never seen or heard of before and they also did an amazing job at portraying their characters I also think that the actors did an amazing job at creating the fight scenes as it must be hard to film them and also I thought that the chorography of the fight scenes was very good to. All of the Actors also managed very well to show their characters emotions and feelings and so I was very impressed with the acting. Every one of the actors were also very easy to understand and all of the actors spoke clearly.
The story is also very well written and very entertaining and original the film didn't really have any humour in the film but with this film being action and drama I didn't expect any and it didn't take away from the film at all. The story did have a few sub plots and twists but not many, but the ones that were present in the film were more than enough to keep the film entertaining and interesting. The screenplay is as good as the story it's dramatic and it also has good dialogue. The story is also easily understood and isn't confusing.
There was a soundtrack in this film and it was very good the songs were original and there was even some classical Beethoven music added in to the film. The Music also created some suspense in the film when it was needed and also made the film more dramatic in places especially with this film having intense fights; the music seemed to make them even more entertaining. The Music in this film was very good and it also fit the tone of the mood which also added to the overall effect of the movie. Overall a very good and entertaining soundtrack that fit the film perfectly.
I didn't really find any bad points with his film as I really enjoyed it the only thing that I could see that would put people off would be the length as the film is well over 2 hours long but as I have previously mentioned I thought it was easily watchable and entertaining. The film is rated 12A as although there is violence it doesn't really consist of gore but there is swearing in the film.
The film has been out for a while now and there isn't any news on a sequel. I don't think there will be a sequel even though this film was really good in my opinion mainly because this was a one off original story and wasn't based on a book and also because the film never broke even and didn't gross or make any profit.
Overall I really enjoyed watching Warrior and think that it was a very good film despite it not actually grossing more than the budget. The CGI and Special effects were very good but they weren't used much, and I didn't think they needed to be used for a movie like this. The story and screenplay provided a very good story and the story is easily followed. The sound track as I have previously mentioned I thought was superb and the actors all did an amazing job portraying their characters. Overall I really enjoyed watching Warrior and I could easily watch this film again and I highly recommend it.
5 Out of 5
Thank you for reading my film review, any comments or ratings are appreciated and I will try to rate you all back but if I miss you please let me know and I will rate. this review may also be published on ciao.
When this was on at the cinema I dismissed it as it looked a bit too similar to another film I had seen not long before called "The Fighter". I now regret this choice and wish I had seen it at the cinema. We bought the DVD last week after a friend highly recommended it. It was £10 on www.play.com. I'd like to mention at this point that I'm not a great fan of fighting as a sport and wouldn't usually watch live fights on TV. However we were assured that this film was more than just fighting and that there was a good storyline there too, so I thought I'd give it a chance.
The film is directed by Gavin O'Connor and was released in UK cinemas on 23rd September 2011. It was released to DVD on 20 February. The film is dedicated to the late Charles Lewis Jr, the founder of mixed martial arts clothing company TapouT who tragically died in a car accident in 2009.
The film is about two brothers Brendan and Tommy (Joel Edgerton & Tom Hardy) who were separated at a young age when their mother walked away from her abusive relationship with alcoholic husband Paddy (Nick Nolte).
After living a separate life with the late mother and joining the US Marines, Tommy returns to his hometown and re-unites with his father. He soon makes a name for himself in the fighting world when a video of him beating highly rated professional fighter "Mad Dog" goes viral and he asks his father to coach him for 'Sparta', a mixed martial arts tournament with a prize of $5,000,000 for the winner. Despite this, his relationship with his father is far from pleasant and it is made clear that he is still very angry with his father for the treatment of him and his mother, and we witness a struggling liaison between the two throughout the film. We also learn that Tommy lost a fellow marine during service and has vowed to help his widow financially, therefore plans to send his winnings to the struggling widow and her children.
The film also introduces us to elder brother Brendan who still lives relatively close to his father yet also has a troubled relationship involving only phone calls and no face-to-face contact with himself or his wife and 2 young daughters. Brendan is now a physics teacher however was a former UGC fighter. He and his wife have been left in debt and are facing the prospect of losing their family home after paying high medical bills for their youngest daughter who was suffered a serious illness as a baby. Therefore Brendan also enters the fighting contest 'Sparta' in a bid to save his debt stricken family.
The film then follows the brothers training and soon takes us to the Sparta competition, where we witness the brothers' hostile first reunion after 14 years. We then learn the fate of both men in the Sparta contest, which I won't give away!
There are two minor background stories, one involving a group of students from Brendan's physics class who are appealing to the head teacher to allow them to watch the Sparta tournament on school grounds in form of a fundraiser. The second is regarding Tommy's career in the US marines and a story which emerges from this. However I don't want to give any more away. The sub-story don't take up much of the film, which otherwise entirely focuses on the main storyline.
When writing an overview of the plot above I realised how simple it actually is, yet when you are actually watching it there is a complexity to the whole situation, which for me made it very watchable. I really appreciated how the plot was presented, the complexity of the relationship between the three main characters was integral to the entire storyline so it was important that this was presented in a concise manner. Yet they didn't make it too easy and the film didn't give the whole background away within the first 5 minutes, instead information was gradually released in a more natural way allowing the background story to develop at a slower pace which made the film more enjoyable and gave me something to think about.
The first half of the film is mainly taken up by none-fighting scenes such as Tommy's reunion with his father, scenes at Brendan's family home and workplace and both men training for the contest. Whereas the second half of the film revolves around the fighting contest. I liked how the film was split up in this way and thought the lack of fighting in the first half allowed the film to build up towards the main contest and it created a suspense. I also thought the slow moving first half of the film was necessary and if too much fighting had been introduced at the start the film would have been ruined, and the first scenes would have distracted from the development of the story and situation.
Like I said earlier in the review, I'm not a great fan of fighting as sport, I'm not against it but don't really choose to watch live fighting and wouldn't usually get drawn to fighting films. However this one is much more than that and the fight scenes were realistic yet weren't too disturbing or graphic. In fact I actually really enjoyed the fight scenes, but I feel I only enjoyed them because the first part of the film had allowed me to understand the characters reasons for being there and really relate to them. This gave the fight scenes an intense emotional feel, and without these they would have been meaningless and I probably wouldn't have enjoyed them.
The storyline was realistic and convincing, it was the stark realism of the film which made it so touching and allowed the audience to really connect with the characters and their situation. I felt truly gripped by the whole story and genuinely interested in the outcome. I also felt connected to the characters on an emotional level which made the whole film, particularly the ending even more enjoyable. I actually felt really tearful at certain points of the film, but in a good way!!
I won't give away the ending of the film, but I will say it was satisfying from a viewers point of view and conclusive. Having said this the film was probably open to a '6 months later' option where they could have given the viewer more conclusion of what happens next, however they didn't do this and I'm glad they didn't, as I felt there had already been enough conclusion and any more might have ruined the film and wouldn't have suited it.
Until I saw this film I didn't know much about any of the cast. I vaguely remembered Tom Hardy being in Inception but couldn't remember if he was any good. Therefore I entered the film with no previous judgements on any of the cast. I really rated the acting skills presented by the 3 main actors Hardy, Edgerton & Nolte. All gave excellent performances throughout the film which were extremely convincing, so much so it is hard to imagine that they are not those people in real life!!
The three actors had difficult roles to play, of deeply troubled angry men, yet all handled this very well. There was also a wide selection of scenes to act out, varying from teaching a lesson in a school to fighting in a ring. Therefore the actors were very flexible. I thought the acting was consistent and they all stayed in character, without the need for over-acting. Acting outside of these three roles was also very convincing and all cast members were well appointed and played the roles they were given very well.
The need for good acting was vital for this film, I know you could say that about any film, but this one in particular really needed strong acting behind it in order to work. Were it cast badly, the film could have easily ended up being a tacky fighting film and wouldn't have allowed for the connection between the audience and the characters, which was integral to the films success and the enjoyment of the second part of the film.
**Film Production & Soundtrack**
I have read that many of the fighting scenes involved the use of stunt-doubles, yet this was not noticeable at all during the film and the fight scenes were absolutely seamless as far as I was concerned.
The film soundtrack and sound effects were important and really heightened the intensity of some of the scenes. I also really liked the closing song "About Today" by The Nationals which really made the final scene and emphasized this emotional situation. This song was such a good choice and fitted this important scene perfectly.
I highly recommend this film as a deep emotional account of three mens' struggle with themselves and their personal situations. The film isn't just about fighting in the ring, but also about the characters fights within themselves and their own feelings. Obviously if you really hate films involving fight scenes this probably isnt the one for you, but I would urge anyone not to let this put them off, as I'm not a fan of fighting myself yet still thoroughly enjoyed this.
The film offers both suspense and action, at the same time as a deep emotional storyline involving complex relationships. The storyline itself isn't complex so don't expect a mystery style storyline with clues and unknowns, yet it is complex in other ways making this more than just 'another fighting film'.