- Actors: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Nick Nolte
- Director: Gavin O'Connor
- Disc Format: 4K, NTSC, Widescreen
- Language: English
- Number of discs: 2
- Rated: PG-13
- Studio: LIONSGATE
- Release Date: October 24, 2017
- Run Time: 140 minutes
Sports movies have become somewhat generic in their support of underdog narratives and the hopeful resolution that is nearly always presented by the final frame, especially those centered around boxing or other styles of fighting. Warrior is no exception, in some ways, but it also remembers what made Rocky one of the greatest films of its kind, before the franchise’s sequels swallowed up the elements that made it stick out. Not only did Rocky have an ending that was more interested in the journey taken by the fighter than the outcome of the battle within the ring, but it was also a film more interested in the gritty realism than flashy spectacle. Warrior sets up a scenario where we can have the best of both worlds, and does so by providing us with two protagonists.
These two protagonists are both underdogs, both have antagonists that they must face in the ring before battling each other, and the film is dealt a rich drama in the narrative by the fact that they also happen to be estranged brothers. Split by the ugly separation of their parents, Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) each made different choices about which parent to live with. Brendan chose to stay with his alcoholic father, Paddy (Nick Nolte), and their relationship continues to suffer, even after several years of sobriety. Despite this, Brendan is an upstanding husband and father, working as a public high school teacher trying to make ends meet. Tommy is a Marine, just returning home after years of service, still haunted by both his time overseas and angry about the family dynamic he returns to.
Both Tommy and Brendan end up entering an MMA tournament, and it is clear from the beginning, despite each being considered underdogs, they will end up having to fight each other. While Brendan is simply fighting out of necessity, to try and support his family, Tommy has something deeper inside of him leading to the desire to compete. It is telling that he enlists his father to be his coach, even though their relationship seems damaged beyond repair.
Warrior has somewhat of a conventional narrative, aside from the decision to have two protagonists. At times it all begins to feel very Hollywood and predictably schmaltzy, despite the grittiness of the cinematography. The one thing that saves the film from feeling cliché is the performances. Every time the screenplay starts to feel a little bit cheesy or contrived, the dedication of the cast pulls it back into a place of believability and sincerity. Nolte gives a powerhouse performance, receiving a standing ovation from the crew after his first take on the first day of shooting, and went on to get an Academy Award nomination for his contribution. Although neither Hardy nor Edgerton were as well-known when they made Warrior as they are today, it is easy to see how this film may have been a contributing factor in their elevated statuses. They were so dedicated to the physicality of their roles that each suffered injuries during filming (torn ACL for Edgerton and three broken bones for Hardy).
Because this film features cinematography more dedicated to gritty realism than polished perfection, Warrior is not the obvious choice for 4K upgrade. With that being said, the photography in the film is wonderfully executed even in its deceptive simplicity, and this is highlighted by the enhanced presentation. There are also many scenes where the colors are noticeably deeper and more lifelike, especially in the spectacle of the cage.
The special features are simply transferred over from the Blu-ray disc, which is also included as a bonus alternative way to watch the film, along with a code for a Digital HD copy. There are several incredible extras in the bonus features, including a deleted scene with the take that Nolte received a standing ovation for. There is also a making-of documentary, an analysis of one of the fight scenes, a cast/crew commentary track, gag reel with many accidents from the fight choreography, and more. There is also an enhanced viewing mode available only on the Blu-ray.
Entertainment Value: 9/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Special Features: 9/10