Lionsgate is set to release Gavin O’Connor’s (Miracle, Pride and Glory) new filmthis September (2011). For us guys who enjoy the MMA films put out over the last decade, this one might hold an added interest. Warrior seems to have raised the bar for the usually one-dimensional fight films that have been produced in the past.
We’re not saying that we didn’t enjoy the other films, such as those in the Undisputed franchise, or others starring MMA icons like Randy Couture, but Warrior seems to have added as much detail outside the octagon as it did the fight scenes inside. If anything, Warrior will remind you of the recent David O. Russell film The Fighter, albeit the brothers in Warrior become rivals rather than companions.
All the best fight films have great drama outside the ring. The fights themselves, although the most entertaining part of the film, are hollow without a context surrounding them. While the fights are fun to watch, they are only able to produce that prickly sensation up you spine and grab your total attention because the drama outside the ring has built you up to them.
Warrior‘s drama is between the two brothers and their alcoholic father. Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy) is ex-military, his older brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is a teacher (and former MMA fighter). Their father (Nick Nolte) is a drunk and ex-boxer/trainer.
Brendan has fallen on some financial difficulties. He can’t sustain the mortgage on the house he lives in with his wife and children. Tommy is having difficulties of his own (having something to do with saving a fellow infantryman and causing his exit from the Service) and asks his father to train him for an upcoming MMA tournament.
The brothers are estranged due to Brendan leaving Tommy behind when he escaped the abuse of his father at the age of 16. Brendon, to relieve his financial difficulties, enters the same tournament as Tommy. Brendon enters over the objections of his wife as she was the reason he left the sport so they could raise their children in an environment outside the violence of MMA fighting.
The brothers face each other in the film’s final fight and it becomes the catharsis both need to re-establish a close relationship. If Gavin O’Connor can produce similar results in intensity and friction as he did in Pride and Glory and the choreography for the fight scenes is top-notch, then Warrior should become the best MMA film ever released to date. We’ll see in September.