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Gavin O'Connor
Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Kevin Dunn, Maximiliano Hernández
Writing Credits:
Gavin O'Connor (and story), Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman (and story)

Fight for Family.

The youngest son (Hardy) of an alcoholic former boxer (Nolte) returns home, where he's trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament -- a path that puts the fighter on a collision corner with his older brother (Edgerton).

Box Office:
$30 million.
Opening Weekend
$5.242 million on 1869 screens.
Domestic Gross
$13.651 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 140 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 12/20/2011

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Gavin O’Connor, Writer Anthony Tambakis, Editor John Gilroy and Actor Joel Edgerton
• “Full Contact” Enhanced Viewing Mode
• “Redemption: Bringing Warrior to Life” Documentary
• “Philosophy in Combat” Featurette
• “Simply Believe” Featurette
• “Brother Vs. Brother” Featurette
• Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary
• Gag Reel
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Warrior [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 23, 2011)

I can’t identify the first movie about an underdog who overcomes the odds and succeeds in man-to-man battle, but that genre – which probably peaked with 1976’s Rocky - shows no signs of waning. For another example, we go to 2011’s Warrior.

We meet recovering alcoholic Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) and his two adult sons. Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is a married father of two who works as a high school physics teacher, while Tommy (Tom Hardy) lives a more solitary existence. He spent time in the Marines and had to deal with his mother’s painful death without support from his dad or anyone else, and this leaves him scarred and bitter.

Former star high school wrestler Tommy decides to work on his fighting skills, and he impresses gym owner Colt Boyd (Maximiliano Hernandez) enough to land some professional Mixed Martial Arts bouts. This leads him on a path toward success in that realm – and allows him to bond with his pop, who he recruits as his trainer.

In the meantime, Brendan deals with severe financial issues provoked by his daughter’s health problems. To raise extra money, he occasionally fights in small-time MMA bouts – which he does without the knowledge of his wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison). Eventually the cat comes out of the bag, but Brendan continues to brawl and eventually moves up the ranks.

A massive “Super Bowl of MMA” waits on the horizon. With its high payout, it sounds appealing to both brothers. They shoot for it and eventually find themselves on a collision course with each other.

The trailers for Warrior emphasized the “brother vs. brother” angle in such a way that it essentially came across as a gimmick. If you saw those, you might think that the film would deliver a “double Rocky” – two underdogs for the price of one!

And it does, to a degree, but it’d be a massive disservice to the film to see it as little more than the usual “underdog makes good” theme. Those elements exist but remain pretty firmly in the background most of the time.

Instead, Warrior provides a family drama in fight flick clothing. Those trailers emphasized all the MMA, but that side of the movie nearly seems incidental at times. Sure, it plays an important role, and the fights become more dominant as the movie progresses; it won’t deny us the climactic MMA tournament.

However, like the original Rocky - but not like most of its sequels – Warrior cares much more about its personalities and their relationships than the brawling, and it benefits from that approach. Once might expect a flick about MMA to be loud, flashy and aggressive, but Warrior takes an opposite path.

Indeed, even with the ample – and occasionally annoying – use of “shakycam”, Warrior provides a pretty low-key approach to the material, and it tells its story in a gradual, subdued manner. I like that it dollops out exposition without scenes that make the narrative grind to a halt. We get backstory in slow tidbits, and the movie’s brave enough to leave some things unsaid; don’t expect to know every little nook and cranny about the characters by the film’s end.

Rather than frustrate us, this makes the movie more powerful. We have enough specifics to understand the rift among the various characters but not so much that things can be tied up in a neat little bow. This helps to involve us in the personalities and makes matters more intriguing, as we glom onto whatever information we get.

The actors definitely help. All do well, but Nolte deserves special attention in a performance that really should earn him Oscar attention. Nolte delivers such a vulnerable turn that it becomes difficult to watch at times; he so deeply gets to the heart of a man desperate to right past wrongs that he looks on the verge of emotional collapse at times. It’s remarkable to see someone with such a tough exterior create a character with such obvious weaknesses; even if the rest of the movie stunk, Nolte would make it worthwhile.

But the rest of the movie doesn’t stink, so Nolte’s work almost turns into the icing on the cake. Warrior doesn’t do everything right – I think it gets to the tournament too quickly, for instance – but it fares quite well overall and delivers an involving, emotional experience.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus A-

Warrior appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The image mostly seemed positive.

For the most part, sharpness looked good. A little softness crept into the image at times, but not frequently. Instead, the movie almost always appeared nicely detailed and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were minor, but i noticed the occasional small white speck.

In terms of colors, the movie went with a yellow “sodium vapor” or a chilly blue most of the time, though the Atlantic City scenes took on a peppy neon look. The tones consistently seemed clear and concise within those parameters. Blacks were deep and firm, while low-light shots came across as appropriately dense but not overly dark. Outside of a sliver of softness and some specks, the picture appeared positive.

I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Warrior. All of the MMA battles ensured that the mix offered plenty of involving material. The fights filled out the spectrum in an active, involving manner that created a fair amount of exciting audio, and a smattering of war segments added to the mix.

Audio quality also was very good. Speech seemed crisp and distinctive, as I noticed no flaws like edginess. Music seemed warm and full, while effects added a real bang to the proceedings. Those elements showed good clarity and accuracy, and they offered tight, deep bass as well. The track seemed vibrant and dynamic as it accentuated the movie in a satisfying manner.

The Blu-ray comes with a broad roster of extras. We open with an audio commentary from writer/director Gavin O’Connor, writer Anthony Tambakis, editor John Gilroy and actor Joel Edgerton. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of music, cast and performances, story, editing and characters, sets and locations, training and shooting the fight scenes, and a few other areas.

Across the board, this turns into an engaging track. It covers a good range of subjects and digs into them well. Nothing about it stands out as particularly outstanding, but it’s a consistently solid piece.

For something interactive, we find an enhanced viewing mode. Entitled “Full Contact”, this essentially acts as a video commentary with a rotating roster of participants. O’Connor sits through the whole thing and acts as moderator with the ever-changing collection of participants. We see Tambakis, actor/assistant stunt coordinator Fernando Chien, sound re-recording mixer Christian P. Minkler, sound effects/sound re-recording mixer Mark A. Mangini, music composer Mark Isham, Tapout’s Dan Caldwell and Timothy Katz, “Full Contact” director Jon Mefford and actors Nick Nolte and Maximiliano Hernandez.

In addition to the video commentary elements, we see photos and footage from the set, but the commentary bits become the main attraction here. We learn about story and characters, cast and performances, the fight sequences, sound and music, and a mix of other topics.

Some of this echoes the audio commentary, but the new voices help give it a different personality. “Contact” manages to touch on a lot of areas and does so pretty well. It peters out around the one-hour mark and becomes subject to some gaps, but it’s still an informative look at the film.

Next comes a documentary called Redemption: Bringing Warrior to Life. It lasts 31 minutes, 57 seconds and features O’Connor, Edgerton, Nolte, Tambakis, Katz, Caldwell, Gilroy, stunt coordinator/fight choreographer JJ Perry, executive producer John J. Kelly, and actors Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, Kurt Angle, Nate Marquardt, and John Rosenthal. “Redemption” looks at influences, themes and story/character subjects, the choice to go with Mixed Martial Arts and aspects of that world, script and development, visual/photographic choices, cast, training and performances, choreography and staging the fights, editing, and the end result.

With two commentaries already behind us, some repetition becomes inevitable with “Redemption”. However, redundant material seems pretty rare, and the program delivers a nice overall view of the production. It’s thoughtful and interesting as it digs into various aspects of the flick.

Three featurettes follow. Philosophy in Combat goes for 21 minutes, seven seconds and offers notes from MMA trainer Greg Jackson and actor Frank Grillo. They chat about MMA, training and the sport’s use in the flick. This isn’t a consistently stimulating discussion, but it’s a decent look at what the guys bring to the flick.

Simply Believe fills 13 minutes, 58 seconds and acts as a tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr., one of the founders of Tapout. We get notes from Jackson, Caldwell, Katz, O’Connor, Grillo, Tambakis, MMA fighter Brian Warren, referees Larry Landless and John McCarthy, and trainer Eddie Millis. Lewis died prior to the shoot, so this piece gives us some thoughts about him. It’s not very specific, as it tends to just tell us how wonderful Lewis was, but it’s nice that the producers want to tip their hat to him.

Finally, Brother Vs. Brother lasts 11 minutes, 55 seconds and looks at the film’s climactic battle. We get a split-screen presentation that shows storyboards and rehearsal footage and in the top left while the final film runs in the bottom right. I like this feature, as it gives us a quality look at the prep work for the fight sequence.

One Deleted Scene appears. “The Diner” runs three minutes, two seconds and shows Tommy and Paddy as the latter tries desperately to reconnect with the former. It offers good backstory for Paddy; it’s not crucial but it’s a good way to flesh out the character.

We can watch the clip with or without commentary from O’Connor, Tambakis and Gilroy. They tell us a little about the scene and why it got cut. The commentary adds useful info.

Finally, a Gag Reel appears. It occupies three minutes, 50 seconds as it shows goofing around on the set. It lacks the usual mistakes that occupy these clips, as it’s more focused on jokes. That makes it different, but still not especially entertaining.

The disc opens with ads for Brothers, The Expendables, Affliction, and Facing Ali. These show up under Also from Lionsgate as well. We get no trailer for Warrior.

A second platter provides both a digital copy of Warrior for use on computers or digital portable gadgets as well as a DVD copy of the film. This delivers a barebones package, so don’t expect any extras on the DVD.

Given its use of the “in your face” world of Mixed Martial Arts, one might expect Warrior to be loud, aggressive and abrasive. However, it’s none of those things, as it simply uses MMA as the backdrop for an emotional, involving character piece. The Blu-ray delivers good visuals and audio along with a strong roster of supplements. It’s a shame that Warrior didn’t find an audience on the big screen, but hopefully it’ll reach people on home video – it’s a high-quality movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2727 Stars Number of Votes: 11
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