Warrior (2011)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Kevin Dunn

Directed by: Gavin O'Connor

Rating: 1 2 3

Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton play brothers in Warrior

Like From Dusk 'til Dawn, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood and Super 8 (to name but a few), Warrior is something of a cut-and-shut of a movie, welding a gritty dysfunctional family drama onto a ludicrous Jean Claude Van Damme-style tournament flick.

Our heroes are two brothers, ex-marine and moody man of few words Tommy (Tom Hardy – why else did you think I'd voluntarily watch a two-hour long martial arts movie?) and physics teacher and wholesome family guy Brendan (Joel Edgerton). Both have survived a difficult childhood, dominated by an alcoholic father (a seamy-faced, scenery-chewing Nick Nolte) who trained the pair to be fighting champions, and this has left them bitter and angry, with their dad and with each other. And both need money for worthy causes – which is where it all gets a bit silly. Because forget all those ads on daytime telly, what you really need to do when you're threatened with bankruptcy is enter a £5 million dollar prize international mixed martial arts contest. Simples.

Fortunately for Tommy and Brendan, given that only sixteen people in the world can enter the best-of-the-best Sparta bout, it seems remarkably easy to get a place: all you need do is beat someone up on YouTube or, er, reeeally want to take part. Throw in the obligatory training montage (filmed in CSI: Miami-style split-screen and somehow highly hilarious), a scary, bull-necked, unbeaten Russian champ straight from a video game and all you need is Roger Moore trying to steal a golden Buddha and our heroes explaining why they have Belgian accents and the job's a good 'un...

Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte in Warrior

At least there are no worries on the acting score as, given the limits of the material, the performances are great. Tom Hardy, tattooed, glassy-eyed and bulked up to the nines, oozes pent-up ferocity (and sex appeal, lalala), a wild animal in a hoodie and funny shorts, while Joel Edgerton is as sympathetic as you can be playing an ultimate fighting school teacher. Hmm.

Given that we know where the film is heading (it's hardly a spoiler to reveal that the brothers end up in the ring together), the tournament fights are still surprisingly exciting (even if they do appear to be filmed like a Calendar Girls shot, all the juicy bits covered up by strategically placed objects), a testosterone-fuelled feast of sweaty, tattooed, muscled action. Nice.

Okay, so I'm not sure what the message of the film is (sometimes you get so angry with your family that only a worldwide televised knock-out will resolve things?) but there's no denying it's an entertaining film, definitely a guilty pleasure.

Even if Tom Hardy doesn't do the splits and show his bum...


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