Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sometimes There Are No Villains

"We've just got some incredible news and I'm having trouble putting it into context but here it is. The two men fighting for the championship tonight for the five million dollar prize for the middleweight championship of the world are brothers."
- Bryan Callen, Warrior

Let's be honest here, most people watch mixed martial arts events because they want to see someone get knocked the fuck out. On one hand, it's a throwback to the gladiators who fought in ancient Rome and it's hard to ask if, as Russel Crowe said in Gladiator, we're not entertained. On the other, it's one thing to see crazy moves from kung-fu movies being thrown and finishing people in real life - such is the appeal of people like Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida.

Anyway, how does one tell a story about conflict without a villain?

Warrior is the story of two brothers (and their father), all estranged towards each other, who due to different circumstances in life decide to enter a mixed martial arts tournament to achieve their respective personal goals.

Tommy Riordan, the younger of the two, is an army deserter who decides to enter the tournament to support the widow of his comrade-at-arms. Despite his deep resentment towards his father, he asks to be trained by the old man to attain his goals - on the condition that they do not try to mend their relationship and would act strictly as a coach and student. Initially a relative unknown, Tommy quickly rises as a dark horse due to internet publicity and the media exposing his true origins to the general public.

Brendan Conlon, on the other hand, is a retired fighter turned physics teacher. Facing his home's foreclosure, he reluctantly returns to his old career despite his wife's protests after being suspended from his teaching duties due to his participation in the sport. Brendan was touted as a washed-up fighter whose best days were behind him, but he proves his critics wrong throughout the film by his sheer heart and determination to win.

I've always had the impression that movies involving sports tend to be boring (unless they're extremely bastardized and sensationalized) but I was amazed at how Warrior managed to hold its own in terms of an emotionally engaging storyline while showing elements that the sport of MMA is known for. The film portrays the fighters as people who do what they have to do not because they like it, but because it is the only choice they have left.

All in all, Warrior turned out to be surprisingly smart for a film about MMA. The film successfully tells its story of human relationship and redemption even through the violence in the cage and the bright lights of its arenas.


  1. Sounds like an interesting movie... Maybe the villains are within each one of them...HAHAHA forgive the cheeseballs

    1. Actually, you're right. The main characters have tendencies to be jerks (or have been in the past) /spoilers