With summer behind us and Oscar buzz in full swing, there is one film that could potentially get itself into the ring, Gavin O’Connor‘s “Warrior.” As we noted in our review from Empire Big Screen, conceptually, the movie brings nothing new to the table. This writer recently caught the film as well, and it’s essentially two “Rocky” movies rolled into one. However, it is an enormously affecting, truly rousing crowd-pleaser, that if given the right push by Lionsgate could sneak in as a much higher quality “The Blind Side” sort of candidate. It’s a longshot, but we will say this — we seriously hope at the very least the studio gets behind Nick Nolte and puts in a campaign for him, because it’s the most memorable and moving performance he’s given in years.
In case you’re just catching up, the film follows two brothers Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton) as they train and get in the ring for an MMA winner-take-all tournament with a top prize of $5 million. Tommy, a former wrestling champion, he’s running from and trying correct a past that continues to haunt him, while Brendan’s reasons are more practical: he needs the money for his daughter’s medical bills and to make payments on the house that the bank is going to foreclose on. Between them is a recovering alcoholic father who also is trying to make amends for the past. Yes, the story is old but damn it all if the execution isn’t top shelf and yes, the fights (which make up for the most of the second half of the film) are brutal. In this first clip of the film we see Tommy quickly making a name for himself as he plots his return to fighting and lays the beatdown on a sparring partner.
“Warrior” isn’t doing any festival jaunts but it does open on September 9th — if you can’t wait that long, there will be sneak previews in select cities on Sunday, September 4th. If you need to get away from your family this long weekend, this is certainly a worthwhile couple of hours. Watch below.