19/December/2011 11:32 PM
“Rocky,” the classic Sly Stalone movie set the template for many underdog sports movies that followed. How can you improve on the story? Add another Rocky! In the new MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) inspired film “Warrior” there’s two! two Rocky’s in one!
The story involves a pair of brothers, Tom and Brendan (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton), on very different paths in life which lead them to the same place—an MMA cage match. Tom is a broken man, an Iraq war vet and former champion wrestler who returns home to see his father for the first time in fourteen years. Brendan, like so many people, is a victim of the recession. A former UFC fighter and current high school physics teacher, he’s three months away from foreclosure on his family home. Both men look to a grand prix, winner take all, knock down called Sparta, the War on the Shore in Atlantic City to solve their problems.
“Warrior” is a good mix of drama and action. Much time is spent establishing the back stories of the characters and while some of the plot machinations leading up to the final fisticuffs are a bit melodramatic, by the time the beating begins the audience is invested in both main characters.
Edgerton, an Australian actor best known on these shores for playing armed robber Barry 'Baz' Brown in “Animal Kingdom,” hands in a heartfelt performance as a man who will do anything for his family, and Nick Nolte brings some believable grit to the role of the newly sober father. But it is “Inception” star Tom Hardy’s brooding turn as a tortured soul battling demons, both internal and external, which steals the show. He’s a menacing mass of muscle-bound machismo that makes other tough guys like Vin Diesel look like your Aunt Mary. He’s intense.
So, go to “Warrior” for the acting and stay for the brutal finale, a MMA fight that spares no graphic detail. Punches are thrown, torsos pummeled and old wounds are healed. It’s a surprisingly emotional climax to a macho movie.