Fighting to get through the movie
The run-time of the latest MMA movie, Warrior, is among its many problems
Warrior is supposed to be about fighting for what you believe in – what it’s really about is an hour too long.
Warrior comes to us from director Gavin O’Connor, who is best known for the 2004 hit Miracle. However, while Miracle was based on a true story, Warrior is said to be fictious, though it mimics the lives of numerous professional mixed martial arts fighters.
Warrior features stars such as Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte. Nolte plays Paddy Conlon, a recovering alcoholic who hops back on the booze – big stretch Nick, m’boy – by the credits. Paddy is the estranged father of Brendan and Tommy Conlon, who haven’t spoken to their father in years. This situation makes the cold scene in which Tommy shows up at his father’s doorstep seem incredibly abrupt. When Tommy joins the seediest of seedy gyms, and quickly trounces the best fighter they have, an opportunistic cell phone camera makes him a YouTube sensation.
Cut to Brendan: a high school physics teacher. Around this time, the movie realizes it’s about 20 minutes in and Brendan has no motivation. In an astounding case of expositional throw-up, we find out the bank is about to foreclose on Brendan’s home, forcing him, his wife, and his sick children onto the street. To prevent this from happening, Brendan moonlights as an amateur prize fighter. However, the school in which Brendan is employed finds out about this and, since the superintendent of that division looks upon fighting in much the same way as he would a recreational cocaine addiction, Brendan is suspended without pay. However, the suspension frees up his schedule to begin mixed martial arts training.
Meanwhile, Tommy has resumed training with his father, so he can enter in the Sparta tournament, a single-elimination mixed martial arts affair with a purse of $5 million. What occurs next is the single oddest training montage in sports cinema history. It plays like a motion comic and doesn’t contain a theme song written by Kenny Loggins. At the montage’s end, an unnamed fighter goes down with a knee injury, freeing up a spot for Brendan in the Sparta tournament.
The tournament itself is filled with many cameos, some from the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s roster, and some of which are absolutely perplexing – Kurt Angle as a Russian villain? Was Dolph Lundgren that busy? The tournament scene also contains the absolute worst cinematography in my recent memory. Ultimately, Sparta is resolved in about 15 minutes and climaxes with a brotherly hug – or guillotine choke, I’m not sure which.
Now for the hard part; do I recommend the film? If while watching the 1990s classic Rudy, you do a touchdown dance every time he gets carried off of Notre Dame Field, go see Warrior. In fact, you probably already have. I, on the other hand, will be steadfastly sticking to repeat viewings of The Big Lebowski until the holiday releases.