By Rachel Ambelang
A drunken father turned sobered Christian. Two sons that hate him. One son grows up to be a high school physics teacher struggling to provide a better life for his wife and two young daughters. The second son is back from Iraq and steadily becoming the spitting image of his father with an empty bottle in his hand.
Both sons are now training to pick up the fighting careers they left behind them lifetimes ago. The film “Warrior” is teeming with emotion-jerking clichés that Americans seem to love.
Some would simply call this film a sibling, or more sinisterly put a rip-off, to last year’s Oscar-winning film “The Fighter” starring Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg. I walked into the theater fully intending to agree. I walked out knowing that this film stands completely on its own.
Tommy, the younger of the two brothers (played by Tom Hardy), comes back to his father (played by Nick Nolte) after years of not speaking to him. Tommy wants his father’s help in training and nothing more. He intends to make a comeback in the biggest MMA tournament, Sparta.
For the laymen, MMA stands for mixed martial arts, and is a form of fighting that looks much more like a composition of wrestling, karate and flat-out street fighting as opposed to the boxing movie-goers are more used to seeing. As an announcer in the film puts it, “If these guys were caught doing this on the streets, they’d be thrown in jail.”
Tommy’s brother Brendan (played by Joel Edgerton) is a has-been fighter that was never quite as good as his younger brother. He now fights in the parking lots of strip clubs against boys who have watched too much MMA on television in order to supplement his teaching salary. Unfortunately for Brendan and his family, the school supervisor decides that coming to work with a swollen face is not the kind of role model his students need and suspends Brendan without pay. Faced with the task of saving his girls from eviction, Brendan seeks out the help of an old friend whom he hopes can train him for the Sparta tournament and help him win the much-needed prize money.
“Warrior” calls upon almost every “underdog story” trademark imaginable from the start. Whether it be because of the well-written and directed story line, the incredible and believable performances from all of the actors, or the sheer fact that there are so many endings possible, it keeps you guessing which one will actually win out, “Warrior” exceeds expectations.
Its plot line thickens more than once with twists that both differ it from other similar films and give emotional depth that rings true instead of making you feel like you just watched a Hollywood soap opera.
Not to mention, I liked it better than “The Fighter.”