A story set in the brutal world of mixed martial arts fighting, Warrior got KO’d at the box office—but, despite its flaws, it’s really entertaining and if you have any interest in this sort of thing, you definitely ought to see it.
First, the good stuff. The characters, values, and acting are all very, very good and, while the fight scenes work well enough, many of the dramatic scenes are excellent. Brit actor Tom Hardy, who was in Inception, is spectacular. In a better world, this would have made him a star. He’s so much more watchable than most male stars, not to mention more male than most male stars, and he makes his anti-hero sympathetic even when he’s bubbling over with suppressed rage. Joel Edgerton is also good and so is Nick Nolte. And Jennifer Morrison, the adorable lady from House and now Once Upon A Time, deserves a special mention. She never does anything particularly flashy onscreen but she always understands her part and quietly nails it. She does that here.
The bad stuff? Well, the one thing that probably killed this in the theaters: they needed to cut twenty minutes out of it to make it ten minutes too long. I mean, it’s a fight picture. Ninety minutes and you’re done; two hours tops. Not that it was slow or anything—it moved right along—but who wants to commit to 140 minutes of this stuff? Also, it’s all sort of predictable. Not only could you guess how the final fight would end, but you could basically guess the outcome of every single fight in the movie.
Then there were the possibly five or six scenes in which TV commentators explain the rules of the final tournament while interviewing the former Wall Street banker who quit his job to fund it. Completely wasted footage, meaningless dramatically. No clue what all that was about.
But really, so what? It’s fun, it’s entertaining, the fights are cool to watch. If you like sports movies, it’s worth an evening.