Release year: 2011
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Screenwriter: Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman
Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo. Kevin Dunn, Maximiliano Hernández, Bryan Callen
Ratings: 1 Oscar nomination: Best Supporting Actor (Nick Nolte).
Tommy (Tom Hardy) shows up at the door of his alcoholic dad (Nick Nolte) and asks him to train him up for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament. His father is now sober and seeking forgiveness but Tommy is bitter and wishes no further relationship with him than as a trainer. Meanwhile older brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is struggling to keep his house and decides to participate in the same tournament which puts him on a collision course with his estranged family.
As much a family drama as a movie about the rough full-contact combat sport MMA Warrior is a movie that quietly but steady move on to an incredible tense climax. All three men bring incredible talent to the movie, Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015) brings his usual intensity to the part as the bitter younger brother, silently letting us see the raving rage burning inside him while Edgerton’s (Exodus: Gods and Kings, 2014) character is more balanced through his family life and with him fighting to keep a roof over his family’s head yout sympathy tends to go his way. But as the story unfolds you slowly get under the surface of the mystery that Tommy is and when the two of them start the tournemant your sympathy is torn, unable to decide who you are betting for, making the fights that more frustratingly tense. As their recovered alcoholic dad Nolte (Gangster Squad, 2013) deliver a raw and emotionel performance as the father full of regrets about the pass, especially excelling when Tommy’s bitternes and harsh words threatens to break him. The fight scenes are equally raw only in a bone crushing way with the Edgerton and Hardy showing amazing physiques in skillfully staged fights. Though everything in this movies screams full-contact combat when the last frame plays you realize that this is about so much more. Whether family dramas or movies about fighting sports, this is about as good as it gets.
Frank Grillo based his character on famed MMA trainer Greg Jackson. Grillo and Joel Edgerton trained and lived with Jackson at his New Mexico gym during pre-production. All of Grillo’s fight scene dialogue while “cornering” Edgerton was suggested by Jackson.
Picture copyright: Filmcompagniet