Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior” is a riveting action film that captures the thrill of MMA fighting, the thrill of competition and the heart of a fighter. Recommended!
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2011
DURATION: 140 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 2160p 4K Ultra High Definition. 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late Night Listening, English 7.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (on Blu-ray), SUBTITLES: English, English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: Lions Gate
RELEASE DATE: October 24, 2017
Directed by Gavin O’Connor
Screenplay by Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman
Story by Gavin O’Connor, Cliff Dorfman
Producer: Gavin O’Connor, Greg O’Connor
Executive Producer: Lisa Ellzey, John J. Kelly, David Mimran, Michael Paseornek, Jordan Schur
Co-Producer: Josh Fagin, Jamie Marshall, Anthony Tambakis
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi
Edited by Sean Albertson, Matt Chesse, John Gilroy, Aaron Marshall
Casting by Randi Hiller
Production Design by Dan Leigh
Art Direction: James Donahue
Set Decoration by Ron von Blomberg
Costume Design by Abigail Murray
Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon
Tom Hardy as Tommy Conlon
Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon
Jennifer Morrison as Tess Conlon
Frank Grillo as Frank Campana
Kevin Dunn as Principal Zito
Maximiliano Hernandez as Colt Boyd
Bryan Callen as Bryan Callen
An ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father, a recovering alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament awarding the biggest purse in the history of the sport. As Tommy blazes a violent path toward the title prize, his brother Brendan, a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. Even though years have passed, recriminations and past betrayals keep Brendan bitterly estranged from both Tommy and his father. But when Brendan’s unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense winner-take-all battle of their lives.
From filmmaker Gavin O’Connor (“Tumbleweeds”, “Pride and Glory”, “The Accountant”) came his 2011 film “Warrior”. And was written by O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis and Cliff Dorfman.
The film earned Nick Nolte (“Thin Red Line”, “48 Hrs.”, “Cape Fear”) an Academy Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actor” and would jettison the acting career of Tom Hardy (“Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Revenant”) as a major presence in the movie industry.
“Warrior” stars Nolte and Hardy but also stars Joel Edgerton (“Black Mass”, “The Gift”, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”), Jennifer Morrison (“Once Upon a Time”, “House”, “Star Trek”), Frank Grillo (“The Grey”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “The Purge: Anarchy”), Kevin Dunn (“Transformers”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) and many more.
The film begins with U.S. Marine Tommy Riordan (portrayed by Tom Hardy) visiting his father, Paddy Conlon (portrayed by Nick Nolte). When Tommy sees his father, he offers him a bottle of alcohol and talks rudely to his father. We learn that Paddy is a recovering alcoholic and as an alcoholic, he was quite abusive. But now, he has returned to his Catholic faith and has been sober for quite awhile now.
But for Tommy, he has only contempt towards his father because he had to runaway with his mother, who was dying and was there through the hard and difficult times of having to clean and watch his mother die. And he has not forgiven his father for the way he treated them.
Paddy tries to tell him that he’s a changed man, but Tommy has a hard time accepting it.
The day after, Tommy goes to a local gym where a professional MMA fighter named Pete “Mad Dog” Grimes (portrayed by Erik Apple) is giving a spar to a few of the gym trainees. But Tommy signs a release that he wants a real fight against “Mad Dog” and if he gets hurt, letting the gym and Mad Dog that they are not liable for any damage he receives. And when the match starts, in less than a minute, Tommy knocks out Mad Dog and those filming the fight have posted on YouTube, making Tommy a superstar on social media as the video has gone viral.
When he finds out that there is a MMA tournament called Sparta in which the winner will receive $500,000, he feels that he wants to do it, to help support the family of his friend who was killed in battle. As the video goes viral, a soldier sees it and recognizes that Tommy was a person who saved his life and not only does Tommy become a social media sensation but he is branded a hero, despite there is nothing about him that can be found online.
While Tommy does not want a relationship with his father, he asks Paddy to be his trainer (as his father trained him to become a champion wrestler when he was younger). Paddy looks at this as an opportunity to get close to his son, but Tommy wants nothing from him. Just to keep the relationship as trainer/pupil.
The film then shifts to another person, Brendan Conlon (portrayed by Joel Edgerton). Brendan is a high school physics teacher and a former UFC fighter. He is married to Tess (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison) and have two daughters. But because one of his daughter had open heart surgery, the medical bills have hurt the family that Brendan is having difficulties paying the mortgage. And now he is months away from foreclosure, so he needs the money badly.
When he goes to make money in a MMA parking lot match, he wins but because his face is bruised and rumors are running through the school about his fight, the supervisor of the school district punishes Brendan by suspending him.
With no money to pay the bills, Brendan makes the decision, to get back into MMA full time and he goes to his buddy Frank Campana, who owns a gym and trains up-and-coming MMA fighters. While Frank feels that Brendan is a bit older and its time for the younger fighters to shine, when Frank’s top prospect is injured during a run, Brendan asks Frank if he can take his place and fight in the Sparta tournament. This would also be a way to make the money needed to pay for their mortgage.
But his wife Tess is scared of him fighting, especially that one of the top MMA fighters in the world, Russia’s Koba (portrayed by Kurt Angle) will be fighting in Sparta. She thought Brendan would be fighting parking lot fights, not a major fight that could hurt him tremendously.
As Brendan is heading back home, he is met by Paddy and it is revealed that Paddy is his father and similar to Tommy, Brendan wants nothing to do with his father, because he was an abusive alcoholic. Also, the fact that Paddy favored Tommy even more (because of his success in wrestling) and as Paddy tries to apologize, tells them he is sober and wants to see the kids, Brendan doesn’t want his father around.
And now both brothers will be entering the Sparta tournament. Will any of them be victorious despite being the unknown underdogs?
“Warrior” receives its first 4K Ultra HD release and is presented in 4K Ultra High Definition. The film is presented in 2160p (2:40:1 aspect ratio)
Picture quality is fantastic. From capturing skin detail on closeups, capturing the scars, cuts and bruises of a competitor and for the most part, skin tones look natural, black levels are nice and deep and the film looks great in 4K Ultra HD.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW: To watch 4K Ultra HD, you will need a 4K UHD TV with HDR and an Ultra HD Blu-ray Player + a high-speed HDMI (Category 2) Cable.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
Lossless audio quality for “Warrior” is equally impressive. Featured in English Dolby Atmos, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late Night English Listening and an English 7.1 and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Featuring crystal clear dialogue, great use of surround channels for audience and large crowds in the audience of the Sparta arena and crystal clear music. For the most part, a wonderful lossless soundtrack.
Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Brazilian, Portuguese, Complex Mandarin, French Canadian, Japanese and L.A. Spanish.
“Warrior” comes with the following special features (on the Blu-ray Disc):
- The Diner: Deleted Scene (with optional commentary) – (3:02) A deleted scene with optional commentary with the filmmakers.
- Cheap Shots: Gag Reel – (3:58) The gag reel for “Warrior”.
- Brother vs. Brother: Anatomy of the Fight – (11:49) How Director Gavin O’Connor used traditional storyboards as well as live action pre-visualization shots in preparation in creating the fight segments for the film.
- Philosophy in Combat: Mixed Martial Arts Strategy – (21:01) World-renowned MMA trainer Greg Jackson reunited with friend and actor Frank Grillo to discuss Mixed Martial Arts and their experiences on the film “Warrior”.
- Simply Believe: A Tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr. – (13:58) A featurette dedicated to Tapout co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr. who was an asset to director Gavin O’Connor. Mask passed away before the film was released in theaters.
“Warrior” comes with a slipcover, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.
When I first watched “Warrior” back in 2011, one can’t help but be inspired by the storyline of underdogs making it into the MMA industry and beating the top challengers to make it into the finals.
The film manages to capture the thrill of MMA but also capture the heart of competition but most of all having a storyline so riveting that you are instantly captivated by the two stories of a fractured family, two estranged brothers who have lived different lives, both with MMA talent and knowing that both are on a collision course of what if these two were to make it into the Sparta final.
Of course, there is nothing to spoil as the poster of “Warrior” already gives that away but what is interesting is to see one brother, Tommy, who has grown up under abuse, trying to raise his terminally ill mother and seeing her die. Then going into the military to see his fellow brothers all die and he being the only one to live.
He is a man full of pent-up frustration, rage, hate and so much anger that his only solace in life is to help a family of his friend who was killed in battle. As an MMA fighter, he is a man of pure brutality. A man who hurts people with his hits. A former wrestling champion, he is a man that is pure offense.
Meanwhile, his older brother Brendan is the opposite. While he grew up in a home of abuse, unlike Tommy who ran away with his mother to escape abuse and take care of her, Brendan fell in love with a woman named Tess and stayed with her. He fell in love, fought in the UFC, while also going to college to become a physics teacher.
But as an MMA fighter he is pure defense. Using timing, using strategy and doing what he can to expose a fighter by using various locking moves to put them in pain. He can punch and kick but it’s being smart and looking for any holes in the opponent’s strategy and waiting for the opportunity to strike.
As both actors Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton are magnificent, a lot has to be said about Nick Nolte’s performance as Paddy Conlon, the father of both men who was an abusive alcoholic. Hated by his children but yet reunited, as Paddy has found God and also has become sober.
For Tommy, seeing his father now clean and sober frustrates him for all the pain he put him and his mother through. For Brendan, the same situation but unlike Tommy, lived with his girlfriend and not aware of the pain that Tommy went through. Not aware of how his mother died and because he chose his girlfriend, Tommy held an anger towards his older brother for abandoning him and his mother.
The family is no doubt dysfunctional but it’s these relationships that add dimension to Warrior’s wonderful story. Add in the action and the thrill of MMA and watching these brothers overcome major odds is no doubt thrilling.
Gavin O’Connor has no doubt crafted one of his finest films yet and the cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi was also on point and he managed to capture the thrill of the fight!
The film makes its debut in 4K Ultra HD and the film looks wonderful with closeups showing much more detail. You can see the split in Brendan’s cut’s underneath his eyes or bruises around his face with clarity, that’s how much detail you get in watching a film in 4K. The lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music but the surround channels also do a great job of capturing the thrill of a fight with the audience screaming. The soundtrack is quite immersive and alive during those moments.
The special features are located on the Blu-ray disc and features numerous featurettes that showcase the making of the film, those who contributed to the film and more!
Overall, Gavin O’Connor’s “Warrior” is a riveting action film that captures the thrill of MMA fighting, the thrill of competition and the heart of a fighter. Recommended!