A very downplayed, mellow drama that ramps up into an emotional finale, a film where characters speak more in actions than in words.
Following two brothers from a broken family, Tommy (Tom Hardy) is an ex-Marine unable to forget the ghosts of his past, and Brendan (Joel Edgerton) who is struggling to support his family, both use their father’s upbringing in kick-boxing to enter a prestigious tournament. Their sibling rivalry will become the focus as they fight their own inner battles.
I find that Warrior is a film of two halves; there is an hour to introduce the characters, and an hour for the tournament battle. The latter is a great torrent of built-up emotions and inner turmoil, actions speak louder than words and everything is expressed through the two brothers’ different desires to win: honour and family.
However, it is a bit of a slog to get to this point. Don’t get me wrong, it is totally worth the wait, but you have to stick with it through the first hour which feels meandering. Tommy’s character is recluse and mysterious, snapping and angry at everyone, little is given as to why until much later. Brendan’s story is the opposite, he has family life to maintain and had given up kick-boxing to become a teacher instead. Begin the Training Montage!
There’s a lot of The Fighter, and a lot of Rocky influences here, from “best son” and underdog family strife, its very own “Adrian” character, to the Big Scary Russian in the tournament… the beginning is a bit of a mire of clichés. But Tom Hardy steals the show with yet another role he disappears into; often appearing unrecognisable here as he becomes a force of pent up anger.
You have to stick with it early on, the pay off is rewarding if you do, but its probably best suited for fans of The Fighter and other films of the genre.