Top 100 Films Of The 2010’s – #62 – Warrior (2011)


RELEASED: 23rd September 2011

DIRECTOR: Gavin O’Connor

CAST: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Kevin Dunn, Vanessa Martinez, Noah Emmerich, Denzel Whitaker, Maximiliano Hernández, Fernando Chien, Erik Apple, Nate Marquardt, Anthony Johnson, Roan Carneiro and Kurt Angle

BUDGET: $25m

BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $23m

AWARDS: None (1 Academy Award nomination)

The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament – a path that puts the fighter on a collision course with his estranged, older brother.

 

Warrior follows the story of the Conlon family, with Tommy Riordan Conlon returning to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists the help of his father, a recovered alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament called Sparta where the the winner will receive $5m. Also entering the competition is his brother Brendan Conlon, a former UFC fighter unable to make ends meet as a school teacher, hoping to win the money to provide for his family and escape their money troubles. The Sparta tournament sets the brothers on a collision course to confront the issues that tore them apart.

 

Gavin O’Connor is no stranger to directing a sports drama, having done so previously in 2004 with Miracle, focusing on the true story of Herb Brooks leading the U.S ice hockey team to victory against the Soviets. Warrior however on the surface (and in the marketing campaign) is a drama that focuses around the world of Mixed Martial Arts, where a tournament is created to bring the best the sport has to offer around the world, and have them compete in a winner-take-all tournament where the last man standing wins $5m prize. Underneath the surface however, Warrior is a complex family drama that plays on the similar tropes and cliches of any sport drama, but has an authentic weight to what unfolds on screen. We have a family that’s been hurt and torn by the past, how it has shaped their lives moving forward and how their present plight sets them on a collision course to face the issues that tore them apart. Instead of having to pick a side, hero and villain, we’re given depth into the history of Tommy and Brendan, we see certain moments of history from their point of view and have a better understanding of where they’re coming from and why there is such friction/distance between them. Then, there’s their father Paddy Conlon, a now recovering alcoholic who has burned every good will it seems that his sons had left for him, no matter how much he tries in his heart to make it right, due to his abusive alcoholic actions in the past, primarily towards their mother. Tom Hardy gives a great performance here as Tommy Conlon, a seemingly unstoppable force that contains all his demons and his rage brewing within him, caged within himself, until he unleashes it all out in the octagon. Joel Edgerton is also great as Brendan Conlon, the complete polar opposite of Tommy, whose just a sympathetic a figure to root for in the tournament and to make you torn as to which brother you want to win when the reach the tournament. Nick Nolte is terrific as Paddy Conlon, tragic at times to watch with his performance as the recovering alcoholic whose disgraced by his past yet keeps desperately seeking forgiveness from his sons. Warrior is a great drama film that has an emotionally satisfying conclusion.

 

FAVOURITE SCENE: After taking another verbal hammering from Tommy, it’s all too much for Paddy to take, particularly being told that he preferred him when he was a drunk. Cue that sad and emotionally effective scene between Tommy and a drunk Paddy in the hotel room. I’m still adamant that scene alone should’ve earned Nick Nolte victory in the Best Supporting Actor category at the Oscars that year.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “So you found God, huh? That’s awesome. See, Mom kept calling out for him but he wasn’t around. I guess Jesus was down at the mill forgiving all the drunks. Who knew?” – Tommy Conlon

DID YOU KNOW: Joel Edgerton tore his MCL in the cage during production, halting fight scenes for six weeks. Tom Hardy suffered a broken toe, broken ribs, and a broken finger.

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