Director: Gavin O’Connor
For those of you unaware of what MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is, let me explain: two grown men enter a cage and proceed to beat the hell out of each other. The winner is the one who is still standing/healthy/living at the end of the contest. If that sort of thing grabs your interest, then rejoice as “Warrior” is exactly the type of film for you.
Paddy is formerly a wife-beating drunk who, despite the fact that he’s been sober for more than two years, has failed to find forgiveness from his two sons. One day his youngest child Tommy appears on his doorstep. It soon transpires that he wants his father to train him for an upcoming MMA tournament – on the strict proviso that his father does not try and repair their emotional relationship. Unknown to them, Paddy’s estranged son Brendan finds that teaching cannot offer the financial support his wife and children need. He soon finds himself drifting towards his old career as a fighter and the same tournament his brother and father are looking at entering. Soon a course is set for a showdown which will be both professional and compellingly personal.
It would be very easy to make this a couple of hours of fight scenes but, to the film’s credit, there is an attempt to give everything an emotional backbone with the inner conflicts of the Conlon family. Whilst it is all rather cliched and melodramatic, the likes of Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy do fine in their lead roles and manage to bring some seriousness to the proceedings. But when it comes down to it, this is all about the final hour of action sequences. Everything is filmed handheld style by O’Connor and it has a strong sense of energy even if it is slightly overlong.
Basically, those who like MMA will love it. Those who don’t will be looking at their watches waiting for it to end.