Late to the Party: Warrior

Even though I watch and review 1-2 movies a week, every week, there are some that slip through the catch that I don’t manage to see in theaters. One of those was Warrior, the MMA film with Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy that I skipped because I thought it looked a bit cheesy, but I heard many, many good things about it since, so I decided to watch it yesterday.

It’s an emotionally powerful film, but almost manipulatively so. I had thought going in that it was based on a true story, but as I watched the plot progress, I realized that there was no way this was possible. (Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen it). Two plotlines run parallel to each other, one follows Edgerton, playing a physics teacher and former average UFC fight who goes back into the ring when he’s about to lose his house. The other has Hardy as an Iraq war hero and former high school wrestling champion who reunites with his once-alcoholic father to train in MMA once more. The two both enter Sparta, a tournament of the best 16 MMA fighters in the world with a 5M grand prize. Oh, and did I mention they’re brothers?

If this was indeed a true story, I would have been more impressed, if not entirely blown away, but as it’s all invented, the unrealisticness of the plot just SEEMS like fiction at every turn. You’re telling me that a retired, almost forty year old, barely .500 MMA fighter can train years later to become one of the two best fighters in the WORLD in eight weeks? The same goes for an emotinally scarred, heavily drinking ex-soldier who hasn’t trained in who knows how many years, but he’s able to become a top contender in under eight weeks as well. Not only that but he DECIMATES every opponent they put him up against, knocking out seasoned lifelong fighters in mere seconds with presumably PTSD inspired and alcohol fueled rage.

The Legend of Drunken Master.

I appreciate a good underdog story, and this is two of them in the same package, but it’s too much. It’s like watching a movie where a former high school quarter back picks up a football and becomes superbowl MVP after training for two months. As inspiring as that may be, there’s no way on earth it could ever actually happen. Such is the case with both of these plotlines, and the fact that each occur in the same film is doubly ridiculous.

It’s an emotional movie, it is. The final fight between the two brothers (of course they both make it to the finals, as they showed in the freaking trailer), is in fact heartwrenching, but with that build-up, how could it not be?

Warrior isn’t a bad film, it’s just a bit far-fetched and manipulative if you ask me, and I’m not so sure if it’s worthy of all the praise it’s been getting.

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  1. My response to your analogy about the high school quarterback would be Kurt Warner. Sure he played in NFL Europe and the arena league, a bit higher than high school, but still nowhere near the NFL level. Yet, he was able to start in the NFL and win the mvp and super bowl.
    Tom Hardy’s character wasn’t a fully trained mma fighter but he was a national wrestling champ and his military service would keep him in peak physical shape and teach all new ways on how to destroy people in a fight.
    Joel Edgerton’s story however seems more unlikely. However I felt they made slightly more believable due to him barely winning his fights and winning in very methodical, smart ways. Which is exactly how his character was portrayed. Is it the most likely story in the world? Absolutely not. However, its not as outlandish as you are saying it was.
    Also, it completely sold me on Hardy as Bane. Dude was vicious and scary in his fights and supposedly he gained 20 more pounds of muscle for TDKR.

  2. As both a veteran and a former amateur fighter, let me just say that any implication that his military time kept him in “peak physical condition” or necessarily translated to any kind of combat effectiveness in a sanctioned MMA fight is less realistic than an MMA fight with a 5M prize. They post salaries after big MMA events, and I think that beats the combined purse of Liddell/Couture III, the biggest payout in the sport.

  3. I’m a big MMA fan, and I was very annoyed by this movie on several counts.

    *mild spoiler alert*

    For one thing, no fucking way does a ref not stop a fight after a dude’s joint snaps. Never happen. Period. You don’t have to tap to be submitted if the ref sees you were injured. And the announcers constantly saying that somebody could die pissed me off. NOBODY HAS EVER DIED IN A SANCTIONED MMA FIGHT. Also, the GP tournament format will never be sanctioned in America again. It takes too much of a toll on the fighters to the point where the winners often cannot continue after a tough match so it really is pointless. The level of competition in modern MMA simply does not allow for fighters to compete several times in a few days, and the gaming commission regularly hands down medical suspensions to fighters for weeks and months following a match even if they aren’t injured during the fight. Fighter safety always comes first.

    This film kind of depicts MMA as human cockfighting (and even uses the term) and reinforces a lot of negative fighter stereotypes. Fact is most of the athletes in MMA are well-spoken, personable, well-adjusted guys with a lot of respect for the sport, the fan, and their opponents. More so than any other sport, even. It was an alright movie, but not the definitive MMA film people are looking for.

  4. @trashcannon

    Yea no kidding about the broken shoulder/arm thing. I’m a big mma fan and have trained a lot of jiu-jitsu and there is no way the ref wouldn’t have called the fight immediately. The ref’s in general took forever to call the fights in the movie haha.

  5. Okay, I admit that there are aspects of the story that are unbelievable, but the fact that Joel Edgerton’s character went from mediocre to great is not an isolate incident. Take “Cinderella Man” a true story about James Braddock, he was a low level fighter for many years than when his family lost there house and were beginning to starve he took on a ranked heavy weight contender and won. As far as Tom Hardy’s character, yes it was a bit unbelievable that he was man handling professional MMA trained fighters. Also he had a background in wrestling, yet we never see him grapple in any of his fights. Though all of this is true, I found this movie to be great. It far exceeded my expectations and I think the director has made a vast improvement from his last film “Miracle”.

  6. I really don’t like MMA that much (more of a K1 fan), mostly because of the groundwork, but I really liked this movie.
    Sure the plot is a little bit far fetched but this is just one of those movies where you have to look past that. I thought Tom Hardy was great in this movie and it even got me a little excited about him playing Bane.

  7. Not a bad review. And I guess if you try and match the movie plot to reality it just doesn’t work. But it’s a movie. It’s drama. Sure there are very real and true underdog stories. Maybe something like this could have happened. Who knows. But it made for a pretty good movie, better than what we’ve been bombarded with the last few years (piss poor sequels,remakes and just plain bad superhero films).

  8. Wll i’m kind of an MMA fan, and I’m a big Cro Cop fan as he is from my country and my opinion on these fights is that all the fighters enter the ring with a 50/50 chance of winning. There is always a chance for a lucky punch or kick or some sort of choke or something. And as an ex sportsman (i had nothing to do with martial arts, but i actievly played waterpolo for 13 years) i think it is posible that if you train intensly for 3-6 month, you could get in shape to compete proffesionaly, but there is always the question of experience and strategy and stuff. But i don’t think that this story is too far fetched except for the things the other guy mentioned like the tournament and the reff not seeing the injurie. Anyway, for me it was a very good movie.

  9. I have to agree with Tsimpountiii.

    I am a huge MMA fan, and being honestly, by several times I repeated while watching the movie “no way!” but by the end, we all need to remember, this is a movie, I personally like “true story based” movies, underdog as well, but the point here is, this was not made to show the best fighter, or intended to make you care about who won. As you also said, it’s very emotional, and it’s been a long time that I didn’t see a build up song fits so perfect as About Today fit in the last fight between the brothers. You need to admit, that scene was strong.

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