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Warrior (a J!-ENT 4K Ultra HD Review)

October 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Lions Gate Films LLC. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Warrior

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

RATED: PG-13

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


Starring:

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?


VIDEO:

“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.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Warrior” comes with the following special features (on the Blu-ray Disc):

  • Full Contact: Feature Length Enhanced Viewing Mode – While watching the film, you can get access to special features of the filmmakers and the making of the film..
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with filmmakers and actor Joel Edgerton
  • Redemption: Bringing Warrior to Life Documentary – (31:57) A documentary on the cast and crew in making “Warrior”.
  • 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.

EXTRAS:

“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!

Division III: Football’s Finest (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Ray Disc Review)

January 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

While it’s hard to fathom Andy Dick playing a football coach, he does play one of the most unusual, crazy and moronic coach ever seen in a film.  If you love moronic comedy and are not in the mood for anything too deep but something that is all-out crazy, then give “Division III: Football’s Finest” a chance!

Images courtesy of © 2011 D3 Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Division III: Football’s Finest

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 98 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:78:1), DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Image Entertainment

RATED: R (Crude and Sexual Content Throughout, Pervasive Language and Some Graphic Nudity)

Release Date: January 17, 2012

Directed by Marshall Cook

Written by Marshall Cook, Andy Dick, Paul Henderson

Produced by Tyler A. Hawes

Co-Producer: Noor Ahmed

Executive Producer: Marshall Cook, Andy Dick, Aina Dumlao, Chris Johns

Co-Executive Producer: Eric Flesche, Stefan Hormann

Line Producer: Bernie Gewissler

Associate Producer: Maisha Cole Perri

Starring:

Andy Dick as Rick Vice

Marshall Cook as Mitch DePrima

Bryan Callen as Denny Dawson

Michael Jace as Roy Goodwyn

Mo Collins as Georgia Anne

Paul Henderson as Bob Delgirt

Kevin Covais as Allen Schwartz

Alison Haislip as Jennier

Wil Sasso as Terry Lockwood

Adam Carolla as Chet Ryback

Debra Wilson as Mandy

Sally Kirkland as Crystal Vice

Bru Muller as Joe Jansen

Comedy mad man Andy Dick (Old School) leads a winning ensemble cast in this outrageous comedy in the no holds barred tradition of Bad Santa and Bad Teacher. Meet bad coach Rick Vice, a redneck psycho with a suspect record (the attempted murder of a Pee Wee football team). When the Pulham Blue Cocks coach drops dead on the sidelines, Vice is the last resort to turn around the worst team in college football’s worst division (it’s one step up from Nerf). Marshall Cook costars as Mitch, the slacker second-string quarterback who butts helmets with Vice, his worst nightmare, but maybe Vice’s demented methods will be just the spark to turn Mitch and the Blue Cocks into winners. Adam Corolla (The Man Show) and MadTV veterans Will Sasso, Debra Wilson, Mo Collins and Bryan Callen go the extra yard in this comedy that will blindside you.

Comedian Andy Dick (“News Radio”, “Less than Perfect”) is back with a new film titled “Division III: Football’s Finest”.

A film which combines a little “Bad Santa”, “Bad Teacher” and “Friday Night Lights”, the comedian along with director and starring actor Marshall Cook is based on Cool’s real life experience of playing quarterback at a Division III college (Occidental College) where he graduated with a degree in film and New Media Production.  “Division III: Football’s Finest” is written, produced, edited and stars Marshall Cook as the backup quarterback named Mitch DePrima who gets his chance to become starting quarterback.

For those not familiar of what “Division III” is, the division consists of colleges and universities that do not offer athletically related financial aid to their student-athletes and the schools range in size of 500 to 20,000 students.  Athletic competition is non-revenue making and considered as “extracurricular activity” for students and thus have no funds to benefit their athletic programs.

In the film “Division III: Football’s Finest”, Division III is parodied and also categorized as a football program that doesn’t produce any stars athletes and the news coverage of these football programs are often seen as a joke.

The film revolves around the Pullham University Bluecocks and what transpires after the head coach dies of a heart attack after their players throw cold Gatorade on him.

Seeing this as an opportunity to bring attention to Division III Football, the President of Pullham University hires a 45-year-old lunatic and former redneck felon named Rick Vice (played by Andy Dick) who has a short temper and also has a bad reputation for nearly killing all his football players at his previous coaching job by putting a bad concoction in their drink.  He’s also an oddball that is homeless, wears a brace and gets off on bullying his players and is often backed by his obese assistant coach Bob Delgirt (played by co-writer Paul Henderson), a man who also serves as the team’s nutritionist.

But for the players of the Pullham University Bluecocks which feature a variety of players that no one cares about including players who are in their near 40’s and cheerleaders who are tattooed all over or are pregnant, needless to say, the Pullham University Bluecocks need some synergy and because of Vice’s criminal record, it gives the local sports reporters something to cover.

And due to Vice’s in-your-face style of coaching, more players start to quit and thus increasing the losses for the Bluecocks, but Vice hopes by making the back-up quarterback Mitch DePrima (played by Marshall Cook) as the head quarterback, perhaps he can help bring a win to the Bluecocks.

As for Mitch, he finds himself falling for a smart (but can’t afford college) sports therapist named Jennifer (played by Alison Haislip, “Attack of the Show”, “The Voice”) but doesn’t know how he can win her affection.

Can Vice whip his team into shape and win a football match before the season is over?

VIDEO:

“Division III: Football’s Finest” is presented in 1080p High-Definition (Widescreen 1:78:1).  Because this is a low-budget film, the football action was OK but cinematographer Will Barratt focuses more on the character interaction and lighting for those scenes.  But the good news is that Barratt’s digital cinematography produced a lot of detail, colors are definitely vibrant and well-lit, black levels are nice and deep and the film does look very good in HD, considering a Red One camera was used.

I didnt’ see any artifacting or any defects on the overall video.  Picture quality for “Division III: Football’s Finest” looked very good!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Division III: Football’s Finest” is presetned in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  The film is primarily a dialogue-driven film but there are a lot of moments where ambient noise such as crowds can be heard but aside from the football cheers, tackling of players and a single gunshot heard in the film, the soundtrack is OK.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Division III: Football’s Finest” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by Andy Dick and Director/Producer/Actor/Writer/Editor Marshal Cook.
  • Outtakes – (9:30) Featuring outtakes from the film (and more bloopers than what was shown in the ending credits).
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes – (17:50) Featuring nine deleted scenes.
  • Trailer – (2:20) The theatrical trailer for “Division III: Football’s Finest”.

“Division III: Football’s Finest” is a low-budget independent film which focuses on college football and having fun with what goes on in Division III football. And the fact that Andy Dick is laying a football coach (never saw that coming) is quite unusual.

But with the words that a famous actor once told me, “If you want to write…then write.  If you want to direct…then direct.  Who’s to stop you?” and this is where I have to at least give director/actor Marshall Cook some respect in the fact that he wrote, directed, produced, edited and starred in his own film and sure, he may not have a big pocketbook but he managed to craft a crazy comedy that some will either love or hate.

With that being, “Division III: Football’s Finest” is like watching a Happy Madison film, I wouldn’t be surprise if many film critics don’t like the film but there is a demographic of viewers that love these crazy and moronic films and for those who don’t want anything serious but something just unusually odd or crazy.

And so it’s no surprise to see Andy Dick in this film as he is a man full of surprises, on camera and off and so, to see him play a head coach was rather odd but at the same time, that’s what makes the film so unexpected because you just don’t know how crazy he will be on camera, nor can one fathom of what type of coach he would be.  And with the addition of actors such as Adam Carolla, and “MADtv” stars Will Sasso, Mo Collins, Debra Wilson and Bryan Callen, with these comedians…you can only wonder what they are going to do on camera.

Carolla plays the blunt and sarcastic sports announcer Chet Ryback; Will Sasso plays Terry Lockwood,  a theatrical major who came from a Division I school and now hired to be a co-announcer with Chet; Debra Wilson plays the tattooed cheerleader who has a thing about having the male cheerleaders face right in the front of her crotch or behind her butt; Mo Collins as the flirtatious University President; Bryan Callen as Denny Dawson, the sarcastic on-location sports reporter.

But I found the film to be OK, it had a few laughs and the improvisation by some of the talent was hilarious but if you are easily annoyed by Andy Dick….this film will annoy you even more.  Andy Dick’s performance as Rick Vice, the head coach is so unusual, over-the-top but it does work for his crazy character.

But “Division III: Football’s Finest” is an awkward film that is about a unappreciated team, an unappreciated head coach, an unappreciated backup quarterback who all want their time to shine.  And with the football team playing terribly, if they can muster one win, at least it will be something they will always remember positively in their lives.

As for the Blu-ray review, you do get audio commentary by Andy Dick and Marshal Cook, my favorite special feature was the outtakes as a lot of the film was improvised.  Picture quality was good and as for the audio mix, aside from ambient noises and a gun shot made by Vice, the film is primarily a dialogue-driven film.

Overall, “Division III: Football’s Finest” is your typical popcorn dumb comedy type of film and the fact that it does poke fun on Division III football was quite intriguing.  The film does have its moments that’ll make you laugh and if you are a person who enjoys moronic comedy, “Division III: Football’s Finest” is for you.

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