Friday, September 9, 2011
I confess that I probably never be a sports fan, even one day someone can
explain to me what sports mean. For example, I can never
comprehend the point of beating the crap out somebody with
your fists, even given a fancy name like boxing
martial arts. There are many other ways to prove that
you are tougher and stronger than others. However, I am not
single this particular barbaric form of so-called sports
out. I think it is equally ridiculous for Tiger Woods
walking around followed by people carrying his golf
clubs. What's even more incomprehensible for me is many
spectators enthusiastically watch them.
Not surprisingly, I am not fond of films about fighting per se, except a few decent ones such as "The Fighter." Therefore, the bar is set rather high for writer/director Gavin O'Connor's new "mixed martial arts" film "Warrior" (USA 2011 | 139 min.). Fortunately, the film not only overcomes my prejudice about fighting, it also meets my high bar with its high human drama and powerful performance from a terrific ensemble cast, while still having plenty awesome fighting scenes. Did I just describe fighting with the word "awesome?"
Marine Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) unexpectedly returns home to his estranged father Paddy (Nick Nolte) and asks Paddy to train him for an upcoming mixed martial arts tournament with five million dollars prize money for the winner attached. Tommy's brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is a schoolteacher who cuts tie with both Tommy and Paddy many years back. Even the two brothers are grown men, they are not ready to make peace with the pain caused by Paddy's alcoholic past.
Brendon is facing foreclosure during this dire economy and believes that the only way to keep the house to his family is to win the tournament, in which Tommy is fighting the same prize money for his falling comrade's family.
Miraculously, the final match is between the two brothers. However, in the end, which brother wins the tournament is no longer important, whether love and forgiveness can prevail in this broken family's struggle becomes the focal point.
Although the plot is rather predictable—how would the film proceed to the climax if one of the brother were eliminated from the tournament?—but the gripping human story always dominates the film and the mixed martial arts tournament recedes to the sideline. That is essential for me to enjoy the film because this film definitely vindicates my opinion, or prejudice, about the brutality in fighting.
The most moving aspect of the film is its earnest and convincing portrayal of the relationship among father and sons. The credit largely goes to an extraordinary performance by Nick Nolte and Tom Hardy. Both of them are almost pitch perfect and brilliant in every scene.
While I am profoundly touched by the stories both inside and outside the fighting ring, I am deeply saddened by the motivation why the two brothers step into the ring. It reveals what is more barbaric in this society than mixed martial arts.