Many people may call Warrior a modern day Rocky. It’s not. The brilliance of Gavin O’Connor’s MMA drama is that it is a multi-layered story, dealing with the breakdown of family relationships. The story is about the turmoil between two brothers, Brendan (Joel Edgerton, upcoming The Great Gatsby) and Tommy (Tom Hardy, upcoming The Dark Knight Rises) and their relationship with their father Paddy (Nick Nolte, HBO’s Luck). The MMA is just the vehicle that pushes their tense relationship forward. Having said that, the MMA battles are just as brutal as any MMA match you’ve seen before. The creative team employed some of the best MMA trainers and athletes to deliver the truest MMA experience on the big screen. The Blu-ray release is just as fierce as the movie. O’Connor didn’t skimp out on giving viewers special features. Not only can the standalone film be watched again and again, but the enhanced viewing mode gives you a scene-by-scene breakdown with the cast and crew. This is easily one of the best Blu-ray releases of the year.
Warrior begins with Tommy returning from war to see his father. Right away you can sense the estranged relationship between the two as emotions flare up. He may be a monster in the ring, but Tommy’s internal pain is sensed in his silent but caustic remarks to his father. As a side note, seeing Hardy in the ring will get you amped to see him as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. Brendan is the family man, struggling to make a life for his family as a teacher. He turns back to MMA fighting, when financial issues become too much to handle.
Warrior has is a triple threat of acting talent. Hardy, Edgerton and Nolte give spectacular performances. Nolte, playing a reformed alcoholic, has one of the best scenes of his career, while Hardy is the perfect mix of tough guy with a young boy’s spite trapped inside.
The Blu-ray enhanced mode will give you a four-hour viewing experience in one sitting. First, watch through the movie. Then, watch it again in enhanced mode. In this mode, O’Connor appears with various members of the cast and crew to dissect each scene. It opens with O’Connor, Maximiliano Hernández (Colt Boyd) and Fernando Chien (as Fenroy and stunt coordinator). They discuss converting a warehouse into Colt’s gym and tell stories about people off of the street coming into the gym to sign up, not realizing it was a production. Hernández goes on to discuss coming in on a Sunday to see the writers deconstruct a scene with the fighters’ feedback. It’s interesting to learn how much input O’Connor got from the trained MMA fighters, several of which are used as stunt doubles or are actually used in the fights. There is a nice moment when O’Connor and Chien talk about Tommmy’s first time in the ring. O’Connor mentions asking Chien what’s the last thing to stop a guy from getting in the ring. Chien responds, “Did he sign a waiver?”
Here are a few other notable moments:
- Chien goes over Brendan’s first fight scene with MMA fighter Jace Jeanes who actually was Tom Hardy’s stunt double.
- Anthony Tambakis and O’Connor discuss a funny lunch story with Nick Nolte, when Nolte gave each writer a tomato.
- Nolte talks about the first time Tommy shows off his little boy side when Paddy asks for Tommy’s bottles.
- Chien talks about martial arts training with Edgerton. You get to see Edgerton’s workout regime as well as Joel lifting weights between shots. There are also shots of Edgerton taking punches and getting put into submission holds by his trainers.
- The music composers and sound team are also featured in the discussion. I rarely see this in an enhanced mode so this was definitely a treat.
The Gag reel is more of a practical joke reel than outtakes. The cast and crew play jokes on each other.
One featurette breaks down the final fight. It is a mix of documentary footage and the actual scenes. It also includes storyboards and video of the prior choreography training with Hardy, Edgerton and their stunt doubles.
Finally, the Blu-ray has a tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr., co-founder of TapouT. This is a great featurette for all MMA fans and those fans who will want to learn more about MMA after watching this movie.
Warrior is one of the best movies of 2011 and will easily be remembered as one of the top sports related movies of all time. Rocky showed an unlikely hero with heart. Warrior shows a family that had to rediscover its heart and find the internal strength to outfight the barriers they built up outside of the ring.
- Full Contact: Blu-ray enhanced viewing mode – an in depth original and personal look at Warrior with the cast and crew
- Redemption: Bringing Warrior to life documentary
- Philosophy in Combat: Mixed Martial Arts Strategy
- Simply Believe: A Tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr.
- Cheap Shots: Gag Reel
- Brother vs Brother: Anatomy of the Fight
- The Diner: Deleted Scene with Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte (With Optional Commentary)
- Feature Audio Commentary with Filmmakers and Actor Joel Edgerton