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Movie Review

Warrior

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense mixed martial arts fighting, some language and thematic material.

Reviewed by: Timothy Flick
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adultss
Genre:
Inspirational Sports Action Martial-arts Drama
Length:
2 hr. 19 min.
Year of Release:
2011
USA Release:
September 9, 2011 (wide—1,700+ theaters)
DVD: December 20, 2011
Copyright, Lionsgate Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate Films

war hero

sin

fall of man to sin

alcoholism—drunkenness

importance of family

widow

husband wife relationship

faith

fighting and martial arts

violence

father son relationship

drug addiction

estranged brother

Featuring: Tom HardyTom Conlon
Jennifer MorrisonTess Conlon
Joel EdgertonBrendan Conlon
Nick NoltePaddy Conlon
Noah Emmerich … Dan Taylor
Bryan Callen … Himself
Kevin Dunn … Joe Zito
Denzel Whitaker … Student
more »
Director: Gavin O'Connor—“Miracle
Producer: Mimran Schur Pictures
Lionsgate
Solaris
more »
Distributor: Lionsgate Films

“Family is worth fighting for.”

It’s been said that everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. For Tommy and Brendan Conlon, the battles are twofold. Coupled with personal struggles, the virulent brothers spend a majority of their time swinging their fists and launching violent kicks as the world watches and cheers. Fueled by past hurts, the men release their anger in a constant destructive cycle that began with the mistakes of Paddy, their regretful father. The film revolves around the battles of the three men and their struggles with a tragic past. As their broken lives center on a violent sport of destruction, moviegoers are left wondering if it is possible for the miserable men to rebuild the wreckage of their broken family.

When Tommy (Tom Hardy), an ex-Marine and former wrestling sensation, shows up on his father’s doorstep for the first time in fourteen years with a chip on his shoulder and a determination to fight, Paddy (Nick Nolte) willingly agrees to train him. Paddy, who exhibits achingly real remorse, wholeheartedly prepares Tommy for Sparta, a massive, hyped-up martial arts event. Meanwhile, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a former fighter who stepped down to a common career as teacher, makes a determined return to the ring as well, left with no other choice in the face of financial difficulties.

Despite Paddy’s newfound faith and years of staying sober, both Tommy and Brendan find it hard to let go of the havoc his drunken years wreaked on their lives. Tommy’s hatred for his father is palpable in all of his interactions with him, while Brendan remains bitterly estranged from both his brother and father, stubbornly holding onto past hurts and betrayals. Yet, despite the brothers’ determination to remain alienated, the paths they choose to take end up crossing in a way they never could have imagined.

“Warrior,” marketed by director Gavin O’ Connor as a Christian movie, does carry a positive message and could be suitable for families, if not for the swearing, violent fights, and crude references. Brendan is a notable family man, letting his daughters paint on his cheeks at a birthday party and making sacrifices for their well-being. Tommy saves the life of a marine in Iraq, when he rips off the door of a sinking tank in a river, and plans to give the millions he’d win with his Sparta victory to the widow of his best friend, a man killed in action. With the help of his new faith in God, Paddy fully takes ownership of his past mistakes and makes a large effort to make up for the damage he’s done to his son’s lives—and continuously tries, in spite of their hostile rebukes.

Fortunately, the film is free of any nudity or explicit sexual content, only containing a few moderately offensive references. Tess insinuates that Brendan should wait up for her so they can fool around together; she is also seen from behind in only a shirt and underwear while she talks to Brendan. When Brendan first begins to fight again, the fights occur outside of a strip club. There are several vulgar references to body parts.

As for violent content, in a movie focused on the sport of mixed martial arts, violence is almost to be expected. Throughout the film, the camera shows a variety of angles and allows viewers to hear the painful sounds as contestants pummel, kick and strangle each other into submission. Some fighters are knocked out completely with vicious blows; others are strangled into compliance. The sound of breaking bones is heard, and Brendan’s face becomes decorated with many cuts and bruises. The brutality that Brendan endures is often very difficult to watch, as he faces contestants much bigger and stronger than he is. He nearly risks his life every time he steps into the cage. Paddy’s past domestic violence is mentioned, but not seen.

Several curse words are heard throughout the film, including one f-word, 15 s-words and a smattering of others. God’s name is misused several times, as well.

***Caution: spoilers ahead*** Despite the wrathful bitterness and resentment that weighs so heavily on the father and his two sons, a breakthrough is reached at the end of the movie in an incredible, touching and resounding scene you have to see to believe. The peace, forgiveness and reconciliation that shine as the brothers walk out of the fighting cage together, combined with the tears on Paddy’s face, pack an emotional wallop for the ending of the film. *** end spoiler ***

As humans, we find it very hard to forgive each other; we hold grudges for far too long, as is shown by the Conlons in the film. We are flawed sinners. However, with God, if we ask Him, we are always forgiven, no matter what. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” No matter what we do, God’s grace is sufficient to forgive us. Just as Paddy turned his life around with his newfound faith, we are made new in God; we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8).

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Since I wasn’t actually planning to do a commentary before seeing this movie, I didn’t make it a point to document specifics. There is some language, one character mocks Jesus and the Bible, and, of course, there’s intense fighting. Because the movie was so incredibly well done, what some might object to is part of what sets the stage for the movie to redeem itself.

Mr. O’Connor gets an A+ for bringing out the best in the cast. The emotions and anticipation were so intense, there were a few times I wanted to jump up and cheer! (This is NOT typical for me, being 65 with a bad knee!!) While the movie is acceptably rated at PG-13, it might be a little heavy for young teens. I would highly recommend “Warrior” for mature individuals. Bring tissues.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Carol, age 65 (USA)
Positive—This is by far my favorite movie of the year. Yes, this movie has a lot of fighting in it, being a mixed martial arts movie, but it is much more then that. The character development is very good and draws you into this dysfunctional family, as you try to piece together what has brought them to this point. Past regrets, anger,fighting for your family, and forgiveness are all apart of the story. The movie leaves you wanting more as the credits role. The violence is heavy, sexual content is very light, and there is some language, including at least to f-bombs. I would suggest for high school age and above.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Bruce, age 51 (USA)
Positive—Disliked the 1 f-word, and they took God’s name in vain twice, but otherwise it was an AMAZING movie. I think I liked it, especially because it hit kinda close to home for me. A very emotionally charged movie. I definitely cried at the end. Great story about FORGIVENESS and goes to great lengths to show that both the nicest and meanest people in the world are all people, and you can never tell the heart by the outward appearance, etc. Even mean people are just broken up inside.

Though not directly talking mentioning Christ’s forgiveness, as a Christian it was hard not to think about!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jessica, age 22 (Canada)
Positive—Go see this film. And yep, it’s a film, with honest film grain and superb SD quality. And that’s all I’ll ramble about the technical aspects of the film. The movie’s got so much heart and quality storytelling to it that I failed to notice any technical boo boos. Which is good. Your movie ought to be so darn freaking good, you don’t catch the blunders. Heart. Picture “Rocky” meets “300.” That’s how I’d describe this film. Warrior is awesome because it combines the underdog MMA (re: boxing) story of Rocky with the gallantry and infallibility of King Leonidas from “300.” I love movies where the central protagonist loves his family fiercely, defends them, nurtures them, and fights with his dying breath for the kingdom he’s been given, be it is family, his team of 53, or something larger, like all of Sparta. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Mega Tron, age 25 (USA)
Positive—Although I do not enjoy watching mixed martial arts, I couldn’t help liking this movie, for its top-notch acting and storytelling.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Positive—This movie was much better than I expected. And, in an MMA setting, also much more emotional and thought-provoking than one might expect. My wife and I both enjoyed it, and we were previewing it before we let our son watch it. One note, we played it on a “Clearplay” DVD player with the vulgarity set at “least,” to mute out any swearing… and with that the movie was even better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—J Chris, age 45 (USA)
Positive—This movie was about redemption, and many of us find our redemption in the gutter. Christ saves us where we are at, and that means he helps us at our worst. The character Paddy is an obvious convert to Christ, but only after a life of drinking, wife and child beating. The movie is very edgy, and the reviewer is correct in saying that there is a lot of foul language. That is true to real life though, and the absence of gratuitous sex is proof positive that the intent of this movie was not to pander to the masses but to get out the message of redemption. Excellent movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—John R., age 60 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I was excited to see a movie like this with high rating. My husband and I decided go watch it. The movie isn’t at all what it seems. We were greatly offended and disappointed. It did not show forgiveness. However, it did show anger. We will not suggest this movie to anyone.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Renee Proctor, age 31 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—Warrior is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. The performances from Hardy, Edgerton, and Nolte were Oscar worthy. The script was amazing and beautifully captivated. The characters each had so much depth that you couldn’t help but love them and get into the story. As far as objectionable content, unfortunately there is quite a bit of language, including one f-word. There is also a scene where Jennifer Morison’s character is shown in her underwear (As is seen in the trailer). I would recommend this movie to the discerning believer.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Aliya Mcreynolds, age 14 (USA)
Positive—This movie is amazing! It was one of those deep movies were you would really have to bend an ear to get all they said. As for swearing, their were some that parents might want to check out before letting their under aged children see it. But, overall, it had a great message, and I would recommend this movie to teens and adults only.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Meaghan, age 13 (USA)
Movie Critics

“…the film is capable of captivating a large and mixed audience that will come for the striking in-ring fights, but will tell others to buy a ticket and take the pulse of the film's unbelievable heart. … [4/5]”
—Kate Erbland, Boxoffice Magazine

“…marketed as a Christian film… ‘Warrior’ is a violent, profane movie, far from the universe of what we’ve grown to expect from Christian films. It’s also resonant, inspirational and, artistically, quite good. It works in ways that art sometimes does: It challenges, it questions. And it intentionally tries to shock us into grappling with its message.”
—Paul Asay, Plugged In

“…so gripping that, even at 139 minutes, ‘Warrior’ leaves you wanting even more. [3/4]”
—Nick Schager, Slant Magazine

“…Knockout performances by… central characters and powerfully effective fight sequences… a carefully modulated film about acceptance and redemption. … [3/5]”
—Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle

“…An improbably effective and affecting mix of raw emotions and exciting smackdowns… an emotionally and dramatically satisfying payoff…”
—Joe Leydon, Variety

“…It hardly rewrites the rulebook, but ‘Warrior’ is a powerful, moving and brilliant sports-pic-cum-family drama. Like ‘The Fighter,’ but with kicking. …provides a massively uplifting climax. … [5/5]”
—Dan Jolin, Empire [UK]

“…a emotionally raw family drama well disguised as a brutal fight film. … ‘Warrioris’ one of the few fight films in which winning or losing is notthe key factor.”
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter

“…Redemptive… Strong Christian, moral worldview dealing with forgiveness, with troubled father of two men having become a Christian, but the positive aspects are not always clear… WARRIOR also contains drinking, lots of fighting violence and some foul language, so extreme caution is advised, despite the movie’s apparent Christian worldview. [3/4]”
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

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