Directed by Gavin O'Connor, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Cliff Dorman and Anthony Tambakis, Warrior could just as easily be a greatest hits megamix called "Now That's What I Call 101 Cheesy Fight Movie Moments".
Tom Hardy stars as Tommy Conlon, an angry young man who returns to see his alcoholic father (played by Nick Nolte). He blames his father for a lot of things, especially driving his mother away and leaving him to watch her die slowly from a terminal disease. Tommy also blames his estranged brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton). Brendan chose to stay close to his father because he'd just met a young woman that he'd fallen in love with. That woman would become his wife (Jennifer Morrison) and his happy family life with his wife and kids causes yet more resentment. Tommy considers himself alone. The only thing he shares with his brother is a strong dislike of his flawed father. Well, they also both happen to be pretty handy at fighting in a cage which leads them to enter a MMA tournament with a $5 Million prize. Tommy wants the money for reasons that will become clear as the movie unfolds while Brendan wants to avoid losing the family home.
So what does this all add up to in terms of the viewing experience? We have the family drama, the personal problems and the far-fetched nature of the whole thing. It's ridiculous, almost childishly simplistic in places and only ever gets into top gear when the vicious fights are taking place. Yet I still enjoyed myself and I still had a tear in my eye by the time the end credits rolled, even while I was cursing the movie for being so bloody manipulative.
Tom Hardy puts in a good performance but I remain unconvinced of his greatness. In this performance he mixes elements from Bronson with his performance in The Dark Knight Rises and it all just starts to feel a little too familiar already. Joel Edgerton is easy to root for but completely unconvincing as a potential MMA champion (though I'm sure that he could kick my ass if he ever felt the urge, along with 75% of the entire population of our planet). Nick Nolte is excellent in a role that easily gives him the opportunity to . . . . . be excellent. Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Kevin Dunn and Bryan Callen all do good enough in supporting roles and there are also a number of muscle-bound men out to hurt each other en route to the big finale.
O'Connor directs the whole thing competently enough. The soundtrack and score may be a bit underwhelming but all of the shots and scenes are generally well presented and the film overcomes the problems inherent in the unoriginal material by simply giving time over to every cliched aspect and treating each one as if it deserves inclusion. Strangely enough, this means that by the time all of the elements come together at the very end of everything they DO all deserve inclusion.
Okay, so it's easy to believe that before writing the script for the movie everyone involved simply sat down and watched all of the Rocky movies, each instalment of The Best Of The Best and a few older Jean-Claude Van Damme films for good measure. But that doesn't necessarily make for a bad blend of movie moments. In fact, on this occasion it makes for something overwrought, cheesy and, dammit all, solidly entertaining.