This is a movie I danced around for a long time. All signs pointed to it being unexpectedly good, but I just couldn’t convince myself I’d actually enjoy a movie about MMA. Well, chalk another point up for iCheckMovies. I know I mention that a lot, it really does just add so much to my movie-watching habits.
What had happened was that a while back, I completed my first and only list on iCheckMovies, the Reddit Top 250. I even wrote about it. Well, a few months ago, Reddit changed their list, stripping me of the trophy I had so rightfully earned. Dicks. Thus, Warrior was now in the way of getting my platinum trophy back. It’s available to stream instantly on Netflix, so… what the hell, right?
Warrior is really good! On Rotten Tomatoes, (where the film has an 83% score) the consensus is: “Warrior relies on many of the clichés that critics of the genre love to mock — and it transcends them with gripping action, powerful acting, and heart.” I agree entirely. This is a small, powerful story about family, abuse, pain, and forgiveness, carried on the backs of three really wonderful performances. The sports film clichés are transcended because Warrior doesn’t try to bypass them or ignore them, but journeys deep into the heart of those clichés, offering depth and grit where we would often only see shallow nonsense.
It actually had to be a movie about MMA. These characters make sense within this sports metaphor, one desperate enough to put his body on the line for his family, one so angry and hurting that rage is all he has left to navigate the world. The savage brutality of MMA isn’t ‘pretended’ away, it adds to the visceral grittiness as we see an outward manifestation of what these characters are carrying internally.
There are definitely some awkward sports movie realities, especially the moments when publicity for the fighting tournament is being used to move the story along (something that happens several times). Yet, Warrior exceeded my expectations in every way, and if you’ve got a free evening and a Netflix account, you should check it out.