Warrior – 2011

Blu-Ray Version of the Feature Film

The presentation of the film is fine with the picture being abit grainy, in one scene you can notice the picture changing from cut to cut. The sound is booming during the music montage and fight scenes; the dialogue comes off low at times but not so much that the next scene would blow my ear drums out. Simple synopsis would be of two estranged brothers Brenden played by Joel Edgerton and Tommy played by Tom Hardy who have each been handed a crappy hand in life and the solution to that…. Enter the MMA Grand Prix Tournament called Sparta with a Grand Prize of 5 million dollars.  The tying bond between the two is their father Paddy played tremendously by Nick Nolte. Paddy’s early life missteps in alcoholism and abandonment have caused his sons to be weary of him even though he is 1,000 days sober and has found a new direction in life by following the Bible. Brendon is a normal everyday family man who is forced to enter the tournament because of the bank foreclosing on his home. Tommy is the silent “nice” bad guy who has gone AWOL from the military and his only reason to enter the tournament is to do right by a fallen comrade’s family. With the explosion of MMA in the last 10 years this film uses the sport as a backdrop for the emotional story of a broken family. This is definitely an uplifting story that will have you cheering these brothers on till the final buzzer.

Full Contact: Blu-Ray Enhanced Viewing Mode – An In-Depth Original and Personal look at Warrior with the Cast and Crew

Similar to a commentary track this a picture in picture presentation headed by director Gavin O’Connor with various cast and crew. The guests alternate throughout with the set inside a octagon ring located at the TAPOUT headquarters. Along with showing their commentary the footage cuts to still photos taken during production and behind the scenes footage.The only actors taking part in this is Nick Nolte and Maximiliano Hernández, who played Tom Hardy’s handler in the film. Nolte, who says he still has not seen the film in whole yet, seems like a odd ball at times and maybe that’s why he’s the one featured less throughout but his comments about the character Paddy are well worth listening to. He breaks down emotions and what Paddy would feel and how he would get “there”, meaning physically and emotionally. Hernández comments more on the overall story and building of characters; one aspect he keeps mentioning is the Production Design in the film; especially the work put in to making “Fitzy’s Gym” where Tom Hardy’s character trains. Made from an empty loft it looked and smelled so real they were constantly having visitors on set asking if they could join the gym. Notable crew would be members of the Sound Team who went over getting the right snipets and mixes for the fight scenes. Another nice insight was the making of the training montage scene. Gavin goes over how it was the last thing done on the film as far as editing and how he did not want it to be your traditional cut back and forth scene. He discuses how the sound mix works heavily in the scene transitioning from one part to another like a jig saw puzzle. The music plays heavily in the film as Gavin mentions before they started writing, the song that begins and ends the film, About Today by The National, laid the foundation for the tone of film and when they went to their music composer they told him this song has to be in the film; the composer listened to track and the rest of the music in the film follows that same direction. Another guest is fight coordinator/trainer Fernando Chien who offers insight in getting Joel Edgerton prepared for the role and how he was completely committed to the part; as well as prepping real fighters Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Nate “The Great” Marquardt for the fight scenes. Chien’s details to the film and how certain parts were made based on real MMA fighters and fight moments is definitely an intriguing part for any MMA fan. Tapout Founders Punkass and SkySkrape round out the guest list and offer their insider view in getting started with Gavin when introduced by their late member Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr. It transitions into how Gavin got a deeper understanding of the emotion and psychology involved in being an MMA fighter, especially with the assistance from world renowned trainer Greg Jackson.

Redemption: Bringing Warrior to Life Documentary

“Intervention in the Cage” is the term director Gavin O’Connor uses for his story of two brothers working out their emotional differences; something he knows first hand as Gavin and his brother were separated when younger. Him and Co-Writer Anthony Tambakis constantly mention that this is a throwback story with character development and simple issues such as those involved between a father and his sons. Gavin talks about the minimal time he had to prep the project, just under 8 weeks, and a budget that kept getting lower and lower when the writers insisted they didn’t want big names and wanted to keep the reality aspect to it. Changing the film from the west to east coast was the first issue due to budget constraints and the next hurdle was casting the brothers. It took almost a year to cast Edgerton and Hardy as the Conlon Brothers but it shows the commitment the filmmakers had in bringing the best talent to their project and in my opinion definitely paid off. What I enjoyed most was the training process for everyone involved. Edgerton had previous MMA experience which was a slight help but Hardy on the other hand was a complete novice. Several months of training took place to get the two actors in top condition and the work was not light. They trained with professional gyms and fighters and the injuries they endured were tough: broken toe, broken finger, cracked ribs, torn ligaments. It was a very rough process not only for the actors but also for Gavin who was working 6/7 day weeks, scouting locations while shooting, and not even seeing all the footage till after it was all shot, all 1 million ft of footage.

Philosophy In Combat: Mixed Martial Arts Strategy

This is a sit down interview conducted in August 2011 with MMA trainer Greg Jackson and actor Frank Grillo who played Frank Campana in the film. Grillo discusses the rigorous training that the fighters and actors took part in at Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. This delves more into Jackson’s mentality behind the coaching, taking ideas and strategies from other people you wouldn’t think putting together with MMA, the family/team atmosphere the gym’s fighters have with each other opposed to other combat sports. They discuss how in MMA anything can change in an instance and that the classical music which is vital in the film plays a pivotal role in training with timing and getting the groove of the rhythms between the rhythms. At the end Jackson offers his insights to different fighting styles and how they compliment each other from striking, grappling, wrestling and jiu-jitsu.

Simply Believe: A Tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr.

Mask was influential to this film as he was the person that helped Gavin O’Connor reach his MMA connections and broaden the scope of the film. Unfortunately Mask passed away in 2009 before shooting began when he was run off the road. He had a strong passion to live his dream and bring MMA to the forefront. He wasn’t just a brand name he wanted to bring world wide recognition to the sport and the people involved. He was very lively and wanted to be a part of any aspect concerning the film. There is footage from Mask’s funeral where Gavin conducted a eulogy, talking about how he thought he was a dreamer but upon meeting Mask he knew he kicked his ass in that department. The tribute ends with a quote from Mask “It only takes one idea to change everything but you have be willing to go after it no matter how crazy it is. It only sounds crazy cause no one else has done it yet.You gotta go up there and get that whatever it is.”

Cheap Shots: Gag Reel

Definitely didn’t expect this as an extra but it has a few laughs mainly due to comedian/fight commentator in the film Bryan Callen. Runs no more than 5 minutes but lets you see this gritty, fighter’s flick had some fun behind it while shooting.

Brother Vs. Brother: Anatomy of a Fight

This is a picture in picture presentation of the final fight between Brenden and Tommy. Lower right portion shows the fight in its entirety while the upper left alternates between story boards, fight rehearsals and quick tips from Greg Jackson on how to approach the coaching parts. It’s an interesting 12 minute piece that lets you see the different steps taken to put this complicated scene together.

The Diner: Deleted Scene with Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte (w/ Optional Commentary)

This is a scene between father and son where Nolte is trying to relate to Tommy by telling him his own stories from the war. Nolte goes into the layout and feelings he had as a 18 year old who never left home. This scene shows Paddy trying to reconnect with his son even if it is not over the best things in their lives. Watching it with commentary you realize they did not like cutting the scene because by itself it is a great scene but overall as most deleted scenes are, it did not go well with the flow of the film.

Feature Audio Commentary with Filmmakers and Actor Joel Edgerton

Co-Writer/Director Gavin O’Connor, Co-Writer Anthony Tambakis, Editor John Gilroy and actor Joel Edgerton join in on the commentary track. Unlike other commentaries where the filmmakers are open about making the film and give details which viewers may not have noticed, Gavin admits he is not fond of them because he feels it takes away from the magic of cinema. They mention in the beginning how they weren’t aware of how strong the film comes out of the gate starting with the reunion scene between Tommy and his father Paddy. It helps pave the road for the characters and their relationships; something Gavin and Anthony paid heavy attention to while writing the script. Gavin and Anthony admit the opening title card is definitely an omage to the one that is in ROCKY.The longer the commentary goes you get a genuine feeling of how humble, grateful both Gavin and especially Anthony are for being able to make this film. Referred to as “The National Treasure” Nick Nolte was an actor Gavin and Anthony wanted to play Paddy since day one. Everyone has nothing but respect for him and Gavin mentions that after the first scene was shot with Nick, the whole crew stood up and applauded; something he had never seen. Another actor payed many compliments is Jennifer Morrison who plays Tess. Gavin and Anthony admit that after her first audition they didn’t need to see anyone else; she took the role and put it in her pocket that day. One thing that was mentioned above in the Enhanced Viewing section and talked about again is the horror of making the training montage, something Gavin refused to call it; he did not want the tradition montage ala ROCKY  that has been done to death.  It was the final piece edited for the film and editor John Gilroy mentions how to have the viewer follow multiple stories at once with scenes floating pass each other and the mixing of sounds was definitely a work horse task. When we reach the tournament fights Gavin opens more up about shooting the scenes and how they flow; stating that in the first fights you watch more from the outside and by the time you get to the final fight between Brenden and Tommy we are completely immersed in it. Most of the comments made during the tournament are repetitive if you’ve watched the other features. There are some tid bits that Gavin offers about the breakdown round to round during the fights and the story being told in each. Once again you can hear it in Gavin’s voice how passionate he was about this film especially the ending when Brenden has to “kill” his brother Tommy in order for everything to be right.

Film Rating

3.5 out of 5

Blu-Ray Rating 

4 out of 5

Purchase Warrior on Blu-Ray

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