Itís brother (Joel Edgerton) versus brother (Tom Hardy) in the MMA ring as both deal with long-festering animosities and dual disgust for the alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) who broke their family apart.
Hereís what I originally wrote about this one back in September of 2011:
ďWarrior doesnít do anything new. The story of a pair of estranged brothers, one an Iraq war hero haunted by the conflict, the other a dedicated family man and physics teacher with an upside down mortgage and unpaid medical bills, both competing in a winner-takes-all Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournament, thereís not a lot in director and co-writer Gavin OíConnerís (Miracle) latest that we havenít seen before.
At the same time, this tale of redemption, family and absolution is the real deal as far as entertainment value is concerned. The characters are honest and true, the fight sequences are brutal and raw, while the central themes being delivered in the denouement pack a major emotional wallop. This film works, and while Iím not entirely sure where all this Oscar buzz for the flick is coming from that doesnít mean I think any less of the finished product or feel it should be anything other than a major box office hit.
Tommy (Tom Hardy) is the soldier, freshly returned stateside from fighting in Iraq. The Marine is wounded and lost, haunted by a tragedy he canít put words to, seeking out a father, Paddy (Nick Nolte), he hasnít seen let alone thought about in fourteen years. When he hears of a MMA competition with a $5-million purse he enlists dad to help him train. Not to talk about the past. Not to reminisce. Not to answer questions about what happened to his mother or what he was up to in the war. This isnít about forgiveness or closure, itís about training, and if the old man canít be okay with that than he can expect Tommy to leave his life, this time for good.
Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is the older brother, a driven High School teacher with two beautiful kids and a loving wife, Tess (Jennifer Morrison), heíd do anything for. But his house is about to be repossessed by the bank, and not all of his youngest daughterís medical bills have been paid. Heís drowning in debt and doesnít know what to do, returning to the world of MMA in hopes to at least cover expenses and make sure his familyís home isnít lost.
You can see where this is heading. Brendan and Tommy are on a collision course, the truth of the Marineís time in Iraq will be revealed and Paddy will prove to be something far less dangerous and far more supportive than the monster both of his children have made him out to be. The only question is who will smackdown whom when the two men are forced to enter the cage and face one another down, the answer to that questions a beautifully mysterious enigma impossible to figure out before the first punch is thrown.
OíConner orchestrates all of this familial madness magnificently, layering his characters with precision making all of them fully realized three-dimensional human beings audiences of all shapes and sizes will be able to relate to. I didnít just know these people, in some ways Iíve walked in their footsteps, and while itís impossible Ė thankfully Ė to relate to every little thing these men are going through that doesnít make their respective journeys any less engrossing.
Hardy stomps through the film with a furious belligerence thatís impressive. Heís the proverbial bull in a china shop, sure, and yet the actor gives Tommy so many different shades discovering where the pain oozing out of every pour of him is coming from becomes a compulsive mystery I was frantic to learn the truth about. While he doesnít say a lot verbally, the way Hardy moves, the way he shrugs his shoulders, even the way he breathes, all of it hints at depths and at hardships the viewer can hardly fathom.
Edgerton equals him, and while his role requires more in the way of dialogue that doesnít make his performance any less stunning. What he says is just important as how he moves, the vice-versa also gloriously true. His eyes speak volumes, his movements the same, everything from the crook of his smile to the way his fingers run through his hair combining together to show just how far Brendan is willing to go to make sure his family is protected and their home isnít foreclosed upon.
Much like he did with Miracle (and much like he did not with Pride and Glory), OíConner stands back and lets this innately human story speak for itself. His direction isnít flashy and it rarely calls attention to itself, the filmmaker understanding that the actors and the script are the major stars of this particular show. At the same time he isnít inactive, and even though the film runs close to 140 minutes never once was I bored or felt like there was nonessential filler inserted just to take up space.
I was never surprised by Warrior, and by and large I knew exactly where it was heading. In the end, victory for the film doesnít come in the ring but in the candid way it depicts its charactersí respective stories, in the way it handles its intense interwoven dramas of fathers and sons. OíConner and his cast do themselves proud, the final product a galvanizing saga of pain and catharsis Iíd be willing to climb into a cage or step into a ring myself to loudly sing the praises of.Ē
Movie plays extremely well at home, I have to say. I liked it a ton in the theatre but the second time on the couch, well, letís just say I appreciated it even more. Heck, the final 15 minutes had me bawling like the proverbial baby, and I was by myself for gosh sakes. So emotional. So powerful. Put simply, Warrior rocks, and while I was sadly wrong about it becoming a box office hit, Iím pretty certain itís going to become something a slight cult (and maybe even popular) favorite now that itís on Blu-ray.
Warrior presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 1080p 2.40:1 transfer.
Warrior comes to Blu-ray in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 and includes optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. In what I think must be a first, the audio menu for the disc comes with this explanation of your different options:
ďLionsgate and the filmmakers are proud to offer you three separate audio options on this Warrior Blu-ray disc. These are intended to make the highest quality audio experience available to the home viewer, depending on your listening environment.
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Ė the best choice for properly aligned 5.1 surround home theater systems. This represents the original theatrical experience as the filmmakers intended.
English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Ė this option was mixed for those who specifically have a discrete four-channel surround 7.1 home theater set up. It is specifically created to provide a more enveloping and immersive surround experience.
English 2.0 Dolby Digital Ė created for systems with only two speakers or for a Dolby Pro-Logic decoding system if available.Ē
Itís a lovely primer on how audio works in regards to these Blu-ray releases and how it affects each personís individual home theatre setup. Both the 7.1 and 5.1 mixes are fairly incredible, and itís doubtful anyone is going to be even slightly disappointed in either of them. This is reference quality audio in both cases, making this Warrior Blu-ray a borderline technical marvel.
Extras here include:
∑ Full Contact: Feature Length Enhanced Viewing Mode Ė Outstanding picture-in-picture viewing mode filled with interviews with cast and crew, mini-featurettes and copious amounts of other extras.
∑ Audio Commentary with director/co-writer Gavin O'Connor, co-writer Anthony Tambakis, editor John Gilroy and actor Joel Edgerton Ė Solid if rambling audio commentary with OíConnor and Tambakis doing most of the heavy lifting while Edgerton is so quiet and offers so few comments you almost wonder why heís even involved.
∑ Redemption: Bringing Warrior To Life (31:57) Ė Fairly standard, if still better than average, behind-the-scenes piece with plenty of interviews with the cast and crew. Problem is, almost all of the material here can be found, and is eventually dwarfed by, the more extensive info found in the Enhanced Viewing Mode.
∑ The Diner: Deleted Scene (3:02) Ė Great deleted scene back in the diner between Nick Nolte and Tom Hardy. I get why it was cut, even agree with the decision (movie is a tad too long as it is, anyhow), but as a standalone piece itís pretty excellent.
∑ Cheap Shots: Gag Reel (3:58) Ė It is what it is; nothing more, certainly nothing less.
∑ Brother vs. Brother: Anatomy of the Fight (11:55) Ė Great featurette analyzing the final fight between Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. Very nicely done.
∑ Philosophy in Combat: Mixed Martial Arts Strategy (21:07) Ė Solid short on MMA with real-life combatants and experts discussing their sport in greater detail.
∑ Simply Believe: A Tribute to Charles "Mask" Lewis, Jr. (13:58) Ė Nice little featurette on the late Tapout founder and the man the movie itself is dedicated to.
While familiar and not exactly original, Warrior is an incredibly rousing motion picture that plays even better at home than it did in the theatre. Lionsgateís Blu-ray presentation is top of the line all the way around, and for fans picking this one up for the collection is as easy a decision as theyíre ever likely to make. Highly recommended.