Warrior (2011)

The title is a little off-putting. When Marck first invited me to the Aquila Legis premiere, I thought the movie would be about samurai. I expected it to involve a traditional warrior story set in Japan, complete with flying arrows and long-haired women. Instead I found myself watching a mixed martial arts film, a subgenre I am far less familiar with. Characteristically, Daryl, Tim, Eandra, Sarah, Jes, and I all arrived late, but from what I gather we didn’t miss all that much. Warrior pieces together the story of two brothers, Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton), who meet again several years after an emotionally violent separation. Sons of Paddy (Nick Nolte), a former alcoholic, the two struggle with deep resentments toward their father and toward each other. Amid this tension, they find themselves pitted against each other in a $5,000,000 winner-take-all tournament, both fighting for reasons they consider worth their lives.

I grew up liking action movies, but rarely do I encounter one nowadays that runs on more than just adrenaline. True, Warrior is not action-packed in the sense that it has no guns or car chases, but it offers viewers enough excitement from inside the ring. Plus the action here feels warranted, as a physical manifestation of inner turmoil. What I like most about the movie is that it exhibits an economy of words and background information. We are given very few details about the characters (although this may be because I missed the first part), fed to us in snippets of conversation. The delivery of information is deftly handled: the film reveals character histories without resorting to flashbacks or a lengthy exposition. As for the video montages, they were not anything new, nor were they particularly spectacular, but the sequences did serve as a smooth technique to move along the story.

The makers of Warrior obviously know how to build suspense. Although some parts of the ending are already evident from the beginning, this does not prevent the movie from creating mounting tension within the ring. The close-up shots make you feel as if they’re showing a real fight and you are there with them, holding your breath. Emotions swirl around heavily during the last few minutes, but Warrior handles drama well. Some parts actually got me teary-eyed, and I left the AFP theater satiated, knowing that I had just watched a good movie.

‘I don’t need you now. It’s too late now. Everything’s already happened.’

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