New Releases: Warrior – (2011)

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New Releases: Warrior - (2011) Genre: Action, Drama, Sport, Release Date: 2011-12-20 Duration: 139 Min ...

New Releases: Warrior – (2011)

New Releases: Warrior - (2011)
Genre: Action, Drama, Sport,
Release Date: 2011-12-20
Duration: 139 Min

  • Gavin O’Connor

Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), exits a Pittsburgh church. He starts up his old Chevrolet and drives to his home, while listening to a book-tape of Moby Dick. He arrives home to find his teenage son Tommy (Tom Hardy) sitting on his stoop drinking a bottle of whiskey and popping pills. Tommy, visibly inebriated, offers Paddy a drink, but he refuses and invites his son in for a cup of coffee instead. Inside Tommy shares little concerning his whereabouts over the last few years and instead spends his time teasing the reformed alcoholic before passing out in his easy chair.

Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) lives in suburban Philadelphia with his ideal nuclear family. He and his wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) lament their economic hardships. Brendan works full time as a high school physics teacher, and Tess works two jobs just to stay afloat. Brendan visits the local credit union to discuss refinancing options with the bank manager but learns that he is upside-down in his mortgage and will lose his home within a month. Option-less Brendan tells Tess that he’ll spend his nights bouncing at a strip club a couple of towns over, to make extra money.

Tommy makes his way through Pittsburgh and comes to an old gym that he frequented as a kid. He signs up for a monthly membership and begins to train again, while watching professional MMA fighter Pete “Mad Dog” Grimes (Erik Apple), who easily knocks-out numerous sparring partners. Grimes’ manager puts out the word that for any fighter willing to practice against Mad Dog will get 0 on the spot. Tommy accepts the offer, but is brushed off by Mad Dog and his manager. Tommy persists and is eventually allowed into the ring. Mad Dog dances across the mat, takes the first swing, and is instantly knocked-out by Tommy with a swift rush of crushing blows. Tommy tells Mad Dog’s manager that he’ll be expecting that 0. Unbeknownst to Tommy the sparring session had been recorded and quickly uploaded to Youtube.

Brendan wraps up his teaching job in the early afternoon, calls his wife, and tells her that he’ll be heading to his bouncing job and to say goodnight to his daughters. Brendan pulls up outside a strip club where a makeshift boxing ring sits in the parking lot. Brendan lied to Tess. He enters the ring and squeaks out a win over his opponent. Later that evening Brendan arrives home and awakens Tess, who is shocked to see his right eye swollen and bruised. She asks why he lied, and he admits that the house will be foreclosed on and that amateur MMA fights pay more in one night than bouncing does in a month. She pleads with him to stop.

Mad Dog’s manager knocks on Paddy Conlon’s front door. He tells Paddy that Tommy Reardon gave him his address when he signed up for his gym membership and that he would like to train and manage Tommy. Paddy rejects the offer citing that Tommy doesn’t live there, but will pass the information along to him. The next day Paddy eats his lunch at a local diner and is surprised when Tommy walks in. Tommy wants Paddy to train him, as he did when he was a teenager. Tommy explains that this isn’t meant to be a bonding moment for the two of them; Paddy will act as his trainer, and not his father. Paddy accepts the proposal under multiple conditions. He tells Tommy to empty the prescription pill bottles from his pockets, to lay off alcohol, coffee, and junk food. Tommy reluctantly accepts the conditions.

Brendan goes to work the following day, his shiner in full-view, and catches gawking looks of students and teachers. In his class, one of Brendan’s students comments that his brother saw him win his MMA fight in the strip club parking lot, and wonders if it’s true. Before he answers the student, the school principal Joe Zito (Kevin Dunn) peaks his head into the classroom and tells Brendan to meet him in his office. Principal Zito tells Brendan that he can’t fight in a strip club parking lot and work full time at the school. Brendan is placed on suspension without pay for the duration of the semester. Without pay, Brendan decides that the only way to make house payments is to show up at more parking-lot MMA fights. Tess reluctantly caves to Brendan’s decision. Brendan goes to meet his old fighting coach Frank Campana (Frank Grillo) who is currently grooming an up-and-coming MMA fighter for the “Sparta” tournament in Atlantic City. Brendan pleads for training from Frank. Frank caves and allows Brendan to train with his team. Frank’s unorthodox training methods prove well for Brendan, who quickly regains his strength and agility. Brendan arrives home one night and is surprised to see Paddy parked in front of his house. Paddy asks if he can see his granddaughters, but Brendan only sees a drunk and dismisses him. Paddy lets slip that he’s 1,000 days sober and that Tommy is training with him. This surprises Brendan because Tommy hated Paddy even more than he did, and chose to leave Paddy with their Mom while Brendan stayed behind to marry Tess. Brendan tells Paddy to leave. At the peak of his training, Frank’s MMA contender suffers a crippling injury, leaving him without a fighter for the Sparta Tournament. Brendan convinces Frank to put his trust in him and to allow him to fight in the tournament, which carries a ,000,000 prize.

Video of Tommy’s beating of Mad Dog Grimes has swept across the internet. In Iraq, a trio of soldiers watches the Youtube clip on a laptop. One of the soldiers recognizes Tommy’s face and hurriedly returns to his tent where he searches his bag for a helmet-cam videotape. He watches the videotape in which half a dozen soldiers flee from a sinking tank, after being rescued by Tommy. Tommy saved the unit. Shortly thereafter Tommy calls a woman in El Paso, TX. In her home, numerous framed portraits of a latino man in a marine uniform adorn the walls; in one photo Tommy, also in uniform, stands next to the Latino marine, smiling. Tommy knows the woman and her children, and she knows him. They both speak of the deceased marine… Tommy’s best friend and the closest thing he ever had to a brother.

Both Tommy and Brendan arrive at the Sparta Tournament; Tommy arrives with his father while Brendan arrives with Frank. For the first day, all the tournament’s fighters give press interviews, except for Tommy who ducks the media attention. Brendan sees Tommy from across the room, and wants to approach him, but Tommy flees with Paddy. That evening Tommy walks along the New Jersey shore and sees Brendan approaching him. Brendan attempts numerous times to apologize for his lack of contact over the last few years, but he didn’t know where to look. Tommy accuses Brendan of abandoning him and their mother, so he could have a girlfriend. Tommy refuses to acknowledge Brendan as his brother, and tells him that his brother died in Iraq. The two part ways.

The Sparta Tournament begins with 16 contenders and will have four rounds. If you win you move on to the next round. To make matters worse, the undefeated Russian Powerhouse known only as “Koba” (Kurt Angle) is making his American debut. Tommy enters his first fight and is believed to be a fluke or a “Youtube sensation” and nothing more. His opponent is heavily favored to win. Tommy enters the ring with no music or fanfare. Paddy follows him to the ring. His opponent enters, the bell rings, and with a single strike, Tommy K.O.s his opponent. Without bothering to check with the ref, Tommy turns and exits the ring as the crowd cheers.

Brendan prepares for his first fight, and he is an even greater underdog than Tommy. Beethoven’s Ode to Joy echoes through the arena as he walks up to the ring. His opponent “Midnight” is heavily favored to win. For the first two rounds of the fight Brendan is beaten to a pulp. Midnight is faster and stronger than Brendan. During time-outs Frank reminds Brendan why he is fighting. If Brendan wants to go home, all he has to do is tap out, but if he doesn’t win there won’t be a home to go home to. During the final round, Brendan manages to put Midnight in a painful hold and eventually forces him to tap out. The MMA community is shocked that a high school physics teacher has made it through the first round of the tournament. He texts Tess, who had refused to watch his first fight. She jumps for joy when she receives the “I WON!” text message.

Tommy prepares for his second fight of the tournament. Once again he enters the arena without music or entourage. The fight begins and Tommy immediately knocks out his opponent before confidently exiting the arena. Paddy smirks. Later that evening Paddy watches the news and is surprised as it’s a story about Tommy. The soldier from Iraq has made his helmet-cam video public, and the world is now aware that Tommy is a Marine and a war hero. Paddy calls for Tommy to watch, but Tommy is uninterested. He leaves the hotel room and heads to the casino where he mindlessly feeds a slot machine. Paddy catches up with him and asks why Tommy never told him about being a war hero marine. Tommy loses his composure and shouts at Paddy. He tells him that his platoon in Iraq was on patrol when they were fired upon by friendly forces. His best friend, along with the rest of his unit, was killed leaving Tommy as the sole survivor. Fed up Tommy deserted the corps and fled. One his way he crossed paths with a sinking tank, and feeling compelled to help he saved those inside, including the soldier with the helmet-cam. He becomes famous as the soldier who “ripped a tank open with his bare hands.” Tommy doesn’t feel like a hero. All he wants is to win the tournament and send his winnings to the family of his fallen marine brother. His story has a single gaping hole, though. The marine corps has no record of a Tommy Reardon (Reardon being his mother’s maiden name). Tommy berates Paddy and tells him, among other things, to go to hell.

Brendan prepares for his second fight of the tournament. Once again he enters the ring and barely survives each round. His stronger and faster opponent nearly bests him, but Brendan manages to put him into an inescapable and painful hold. Brendan wins, once again, by tap-out. Back in Philadelphia his students are eager to support Brendan, or Mr. C. They approach Principal Zito and ask if they can watch the Sparta tournament on the big screen in the school gym. Zito denies the option, telling them to find somewhere else. Secretly Zito watches the fights from home, cheering-on Brendan.

Tommy awakens on the morning of his third fight, and the night after scolding his father, to the sound of Paddy’s drunken slurring of Moby Dick. Paddy, heartbroken after the night before, broke his sobriety and consumed all the liquor in the hotel mini-bar. Paddy shouts at Ahab and his crew to turn around and to leave the whale alone. Tommy wrestles with the old man, and lays down with him in his bed, where he hugs him until he passes out. On the night of his third fight. Tommy will battle Mad Dog Grimes, again. Grimes has been bad-mouthing Tommy ever since they first met in the Pittsburgh gym. He argues that Tommy sucker-punched him, and had he known that Tommy was an experienced fighter he would have been more brutal. Once again Tommy, alone, enters the arena without a provided soundtrack, only to hear the chorus-line of marines seated in the stands behind him. He briefly nods to them before facing Mad Dog. Mad Dog teases and toys with Tommy. As the fight begins Tommy easily drops Mad Dog to the mat and pummels him into unconsciousness. The ref pulls Tommy off of Mad Dog’s unconscious body, and Tommy immediately exits the arena to the cheers of the marines in the stands.

Brendan’s third fight is the most lopsided so far. His opponent is the undefeated Russian Koba. Brendan and Frank enter the arena and Frank gestures to the front row of the fight. Tess has come to watch Brendan fight Koba. In Philadelphia Brendan’s students have rented a large drive-in movie theater so they can watch the fights. Principal Zito arrives to watch, too. The fight begins, and Koba proves to be Brendan’s toughest opponent to date. He bloodies Brendan’s face and nearly forces him to tap out during the first two rounds. Tess and Frank watch in horror as Brendan’s dreams seemingly slip away. Brendan rallies his strength and attempts numerous times to put Koba in a hold. He finally succeeds a,nd Koba, unable to escape, taps out. The arena is shocked. Brendan and Tess kiss, and all celebrate the defeat of the undefeated.

On the day of the fourth fight, news comes of Tommy’s true identity. Tommy never enlisted in the Marine Corps as Tommy “Reardon” (his mother’s name) but rather as Tommy Conlon (his father’s name). The marine corps sees that Tommy Conlon deserted in Iraq and will place him under military arrest after the tournament. The greatest shock to those watching, is that the final two fighters in the Sparta tournament are brothers. Brendan enters the arena first to Ode to Joy, followed shortly by Tommy with no sight of Paddy. Before the fight begins Brendan asks Tommy where Paddy is, but gets no reply. The fight begins, and a rage-filled Tommy pummels Brendan.

The first round comes to an end with a late punch by Tommy and a bloodied Brendan. Frank reminds Brendan to maintain composure. The second round mirrors the first. Tommy unleashes punishing blows while Brendan does his best to try and trap Tommy in a hold. The second round comes to an end. The third round begins, and despite multiple severe blows, Brendan manages to put Tommy in a hold, with his left arm trapped beneath Brendan’s knee. Tommy elbows Brendan in the face multiple times and seconds before the round ends he over-extends his left arm, exerting an audible CRACK. His tendon snaps and Brendan hears it. Brendan tells Frank to stop the fight as Tommy’s left arm is basically broken. Frank ignores the pleas and tells Brendan to finish him off in the fourth round. The fourth round begins. Tommy attempts to conceal his dangling left arm as he takes poorly aimed jabs with his right. Brendan backs away and asks why Tommy wants to continue to fight. Brendan attempts to convince Tommy to stop numerous times but realizes that Tommy won’t quit. He spins around, latches Tommy in a painful hold. While Tommy is still held down by Brendan, and their father helplessly watches on, Brendan says “I love you! I love you Tommy!” You then see Tommy tapout on Brendan’s shoulder. Brendan is victorious, but he is more concerned for Tommy’s welfare. He wraps his arms around him as he lays huddled on the mat. Brendan shoos the cameras and people away and the two walk into the tunnel. Paddy looks on from the stands and tears dampen his cheeks. The final image they leave you with is the two brothers walking down the tunnel with Tommy, slouching over with Brendan’s right arm around Tommy’s shoulders and his left arm holding Tommy’s broken arm, with Tommy’s right hand over top of Brendan’s hand.


Tom Hardy

Nick Nolte

Joel Edgerton

Jennifer Morrison


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3 responses to “New Releases: Warrior – (2011)”

  1. Margo "classics lover" says:
    42 of 44 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    This War Is Not in an MMA Cage, September 16, 2011
    Margo “classics lover” (Fort Myers, FL USA) –

    This review is from: Warrior (DVD)

    Except for the lack of a SPOILER note at the beginning of the first reviewer, I think these first two reviews pretty much cover the story and hit some high points of the film. I do want to disagree with some of the remarks, though. First, I would not call this a sports movie. It is not Rocky, Raging Bull, The Wrestler, or The Fighter. Warrior, according to many professional critics, is better than all of them, and I agree. There is the suspense factor of who will win the championship fight, for sure, and the stand-up-and-cheer factor as the opponents are picked off one by one, and there is the heartwarming factor as the school teacher tries to save his home from foreclosure. These cliches somehow are not relevant to this film and I salute O’Connor and the other writers for telling a story that glosses over them. As some reviewers have pointed out, this film is not really about MMA (mixed martial arts) winners and losers. Like others, I had never heard of MMA and don’t like either boxing or wrestling (for me the former is just brutal beating and the second relies on a series of moves that I don’t understand). But in this film MMA is choreographed so that you see the intensity and bruises on the fighters faces, the strain and pain on their arms, legs, and shoulders, but are not cringing at any blood and gore. There is no blood and gore in the cage (and probably that is what accounts for its PG-13 rating). As for the cinematography, the periodically trembling camera follows the fighters in close-ups, so you actually feel like you are standing in the ref’s shoes. The score, which includes Ode to Joy and The National’s About Today, is perfect. I think what really puts the gold on the five stars, though, is the caliber of acting. When the movie was made,over two years ago, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton were barely known to American audiences. O’Connor said he didn’t want the performers to overshadow the characters, and with the anonymity of the actors, he would achieve that. He shouldn’t have worried. The brothers, especially Hardy, completely disappear in the characters. Nolte not so much. His real life and his persona as Paddy Conlon are not so far apart, but I can’t think of any other actor who could redeem this character with such pathos. As story-telling goes, Warrior is both a movie and a film. Nobody doesn’t love Warrior. Teens will love it, the parent-sibling-sibling conflicts relatable. And the cage fighting will thrill them. In fact, the whole family will enjoy this, sitting on the edge of the seats, cheering, and tearing up sometimes simultaneously. By the way, it wasn’t only the ladies tearing up a time or two. After the screening I attended, no one, man or woman, moved from their seats, the lights remained down, only some muted sniffling and discreet blowing of noses. For the arthouse crowd, there is profound metaphor embedded in the film. There are actually three warriors (fighters) in Warrior, and not one of them actually wins the war (the big fight). The brothers have not seen each other in 14 years, each of them feeling betrayed by the other at a crucial point in the life of the family. The one thing they have in common is hatred for their father, a former drunk and wife-beater. Brendan, the older son, has moved his own family as far away from Paddy as possible and still be in the same state. Communication must be had only by phone or mail. Tommy, an ex-Marine, shows up at his father’s house, again after 14 years –but with zero communication– and wants Paddy to train him for a big tournament. Why in the world, some would say, does Tommy go to his father for this. He hates him. Well, Paddy, also an ex-Marine and pro boxer, trained both Tommy and Brendan as boys. Tommy in wrestling, Brenden in boxing. But Tommy was a champion. Parallels permitted to be drawn. And so, because his motivation is so strong (and so poignant as we find out later), Tommy wants to be trained by the man who made him champion. Paddy hopes to revive this relationship, but Tommy is having none of it. Hardy absolutely seethes in his scenes with Nolte; every comment is a stab wound, every look a gunshot. Nolte takes it like a dog after he’s been kicked. Coming back for the pat on the head. Scenes between these two are Oscar material, hands down. As the story develops, slowly, but with tantalizing bits of mystery in the plot, a lot of gaps are filled in. At the point where the two finalists, Tommy Riordan and Brendan Conlon (“They are brothers!” the announcer shouts), enter the cage, we are so conflicted we want to cry (and we do). Then the script throws us a screwball(another shock, another jerk of a tear). Who the hell to cheer for?! There are no bad guys to fight! Just two alienated brothers who need to beat the crap out of each other in order to win the prize they need so desperately. And when the fight is over, it isn’t really over. The end…

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  2. Josh Harding says:
    20 of 23 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Best sports film I have ever seen, September 5, 2011
    Josh Harding

    This review is from: Warrior [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)

    I went to an advanced screening (my first) and I must feel the need to brag about how lucky I was to see it a week before everyone else has. The film itself is……wow. There really aren’t that many films that make you feel like you are actually living the life of another individual alongside that person or persons, but this film does! The writing is absolutely great and realistic, with the characters’ dialogue ingraining itself in your memory for days to come. It also paints an amazing and provoking story. Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy) is a war hero who has just returned from service and looks to enter a MMA tournament, the prize of which is $5 million. At first, it appears that the reason he is doing this is just for pure activity and for fun, but it is eventually revealed that he wants to donate his prize to support the wife and children of his slain war buddy. The man has got some raw talent, due to the fact that his father, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) trained him in wrestling and martial arts for many years when he was young. He appears at his father’s house to ask for him to train him again, but you can tell right away that there is some turbulent history between these two, because of Paddy’s former alcoholism and abusiveness towards his wife and children. Paddy is almost 1,000 days sober now and looks to make amends and seek real forgiveness with Tommy, who makes it perfectly clear he doesn’t have a father and only needs a trainer. Meanwhile, Brendan Colon (Joel Edgerton), Tommy’s brother, is also adept in fighting due to being a former professional UFC player. Now he’s a family man with a beautiful and supporting wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) and two daughters. He is having major financial problems and between him and his wife, they keep three jobs, with Brenden being a well-liked physics teacher at the local high school by day and a MMA fighter at a strip club parking lot event by night. Unfortunately, Brendan faces foreclosure on his house when he can’t make ends meet because he gets suspended from his job when he keeps showing up to work with wounds and bruises. He decides the only way to fix things is to fight full-time, and eventually leads himself to the major tournament which his brother is also heading to. We learn over the course of the film that there are serious emotional issues between the two Conlon brothers and their father, and the film has many talky dramatic and extremely well-acted moments that reveal details and develop the journey for genuine retribution and forgiveness searched for by all three main characters. This is compunded when the brothers end up facing off with each other in the final match of the tournament and simultaneously draw the attention of an entire nation of people with their bout. The acting is absolutely incredible from every person involved and the level of realism that each person brings to their character is unbelievable. I have seen Tom Hardy being labeled as a young Marlon Brando, and it’s easy to see why as he completely immerses himself in his role as a gritty tough-guy. He is definitely my favorite up-and-coming actor. Another favorite up-and-comer of mine is Joel Edgerton, who really makes you care for Brendan and sympathize with his troubles, but you also feel an amzing connection to both him and Tommy throughout the film. By far the most nuanced and well-acclaimed acting role in this film is that of Nick Nolte as Paddy who displays an amazing vulnerability and you really feel sorry for him as he strives to put all of his past mistakes right. Jennifer Morrison does a great job as Tess, Brendan’s wife, and she really draws attention whenever she is in a scene. Gavin O’ Connor’s writing and directing also really make this film a triumph, and I hope he continues to make more films as soon as possible. The ending moments of the film are incredibly powerful and I found myself not knowing who I wanted to win the tournament out of the two brothers, but one of them does win, and I won’t reveal who does obviously because you absolutely need to find that out for yourself when you watch the movie. Movies like “Rocky”, “Raging Bull”, and “The Fighter” are incredible peices of cinema, but in my personal opinion, I believe “Warrior” is a a movie that I enjoyed far more and I am labeling it my own personal favorite sports movie and it is the best movie period of 2011 so far. GO SEE IT!!! I have notified Amazon to tell me when the movie gets a release date for Blu-Ray so I can preorder it. I can’t wait to add it to my collection!

  3. Kris "krissyp8" says:
    17 of 20 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Freaking Fantastic-A Must See!!!, September 18, 2011
    Kris “krissyp8” (NJ) – (VINE VOICE)

    This review is from: Warrior (DVD)

    I loved this movie! This is the best movie I have seen in a long time. Not only are the fight scenes incredibly exicting, but the family drama is very moving. I cried during this film more than once. I think I am a little in love with Tom Hardy now. Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton all gave Oscar Worthy performances. Tommy (Hardy) and Brendan (Edgerton) are estranged brothers who both enter the same MMA Tournament. Tommy is an ex-Marine, an Iraq War hero, fighting for a fallen brother and Brendan is a married Physics Teacher fighting to keep a roof over his family’s head. They have an ex-alcoholic, ex-abusive father that they both dislike who caused heartache and a terrible childhood for both of them. Their father, played by Nick Nolte (incredible performance)tries like hell to make it up to both of them and becomes Tommy’s trainer. Their past mistakes and regrets all come to a head in the arena. This is a beautiful and moving story about love and forgiveness. Go see this movie, you will not regret it.

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