'Not another fight film', right? Wrong! This one's everything it should be...and then some.
The life and times of a fighter has been fodder for the scriptwriter for decades. Rocky (1976) wasn't the first or the best, but was definitely a milestone. And since then, Raging Bull (1980), The Boxer (1997), Million Dollar Baby (2004), The Wrestler (2008) and The Fighter (2010), to name just a few, have helped gather awards, accolades and fame for their lead actors. There's something about a sports drama that really clicks with the public and when the story is about a tough fighting machine and their inner sensitivities and social problems, the magic is doubled!
Warrior wasn't a film I was planning to watch. It had a fairly uninteresting poster, I hadn't seen any trailers for it and though Tom Hardy's name keeps coming up in every conversation I've recently had about good actors, I can not recall him from the many films I have seen him in (except for 2008's Bronson, which was a very good, but difficult film to watch). Anyhow, since everyone recommended it to me, I finally watched it today and have been blown away.
I feel like I shouldn't give anything away about the story, as it revealed itself beautifully on screen and that is how it should be. Yes, there is struggle and personal trauma and heartache and hope and lots of fighting - but it is different. One thing I can say is that this film stands apart from all previously mentioned fight films - because Warrior splits loyalties in quite an amazing sort of way. There isn't just one warrior that you can happily support. You don't find yourself chanting 'Rocky!' or 'Danny!' along with the rest of the crowds. You are absolutely torn and the end isn't totally obvious, which is testament to how well the film is written.
The choreography of the fight scenes is excellent and keeps the viewer on the edge of the seat. Dialogue is minimal and appropriate. Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte deliver very fine performances - but to be honest, it is the writers' and director's presence that sails this ship. I can't say I'm familiar with much of Gavin O'Connor's work from before this film, but I'm definitely keeping my eyes peeled for next time. So, let it be said, I loved Warrior.