"Warrior" brings bouts both physical and mental

Two estranged brothers reunite in the final cage match of a mixed martial arts (MMA) tournament in Gavin O’Connor’s newest drama “Warrior.” Brothers Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) and Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) each make the decision that they will return to the cage and participate in the biggest MMA winner-takes-all tournament called “Sparta,” with a purse worth $5 million.

Despite being the state champion in wrestling during his high school years, Tommy chooses to join the Marines before he finds himself on the doorsteps of his alcoholic father, Paddy, played by Nick Nolte.

The rift between father and son is felt immensely, and Tommy has no intention to fix the relationship that went sour when Tommy moved away with his sick mother.

Paddy tries to reinstate himself in his son’s life by training him as he did before.

The on-screen relationship between both actors playing father and son makes for a believable and emotional performance.

Brendan’s road back to the cage is quite a different one, as he is a husband, father of two children, and a schoolteacher.

Brendan is also a retired MMA fighter who finds solace in parking-lot fights after finding out about the impending foreclosure on his home. When this becomes known, Brendan is suspended from his job and that makes him even more desperate to win.

Brendan and Tommy first find out that they’re both involved in the fight at a press conference that is held before the tournament’s first match.

A vast array of emotions throughout the film sets up a very moving ending.

In one corner, Brendan is fighting to keep his family together and afloat. In the other corner, the relentless ex-Marine Tom is fighting in the memory of his lost comrade.

Nolte’s portrayal of the father is one worthy of applause. He takes you through the life of a recovering drunk, desperate to regain the love and approval of his sons.

Nolte’s estranged father has many touching scenes, fostering a connection to the audience throughout. This character gives the movie depth.

The fight scenes feel realistic inside the MMA cage, and the make up department did a good job making every bruise and gash look real. This is the first major MMA film to date.

“Warrior” is a good watch and an emotional movie that goes deeper into the lives of fighters, showing the toll the MMA takes on fighters’ lives and families.

The film is the first of its kind and certainly worth seeing this fall.