It’s tough for a sports movie to keep out of cliché territory. No matter what, if the main player pulls through and wins big, you can’t help but to mumble, “Yeah, right.” While Warrior isn’t devoid of that concept as it’s almost intrinsic to the genre, the piece achieves an exceptional degree of realism. Yes, The Fighter is the one that’s based on the true story, but between the two, Warrior not only feels more authentic, but it’s a slightly more enjoyable watch, too.
After 14 years, Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) heads home to what’s left of his broken family. A former star wrestler, Tommy decides to enter Sparta, a tournament described as the Super Bowl of mixed martial arts fighting. Incapable of putting their tumultuous past behind them, Tommy asks his father, Paddy (Nick Nolte), proudly sober 1,000 days, to train him again, but only under the condition that Paddy keep the relationship business only and never touch on Tommy’s experience living with his now deceased mother or his time in the Marines.
Meanwhile, Tommy’s estranged brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), is a family man and high school teacher. While he loves his job and students, teaching physics just isn’t bringing in enough to support his wife (Jennifer Morrison) and two little girls, so Brendan resorts to an old skill to make some extra cash, MMA. When the school principal (Kevin Dunn) finds out about Brendan’s moonlighting, he deems the behavior unacceptable, reports Brendan to the superintendent who suspends him without pay. Now that fighting is his only way to keep his family afloat, Brendan turns to an old trainer buddy, Frank (Frank Grillo), who agrees to lend a hand and help get Brendan back in fighting form. However, when Frank’s #1 fighter suffers an injury, he needs to send a replacement to Sparta and, after a bit of pleading, decides to give Brendan a shot.
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