Warrior (2011) is much more than your average fighting movie.  I’ve seen some of the Rocky movies, The Fighter, Karate Kid, and even Real Steel (which I really enjoyed).  While all of these are very similar in nature, usually stories with underdogs or family issues (or both), they don’t really handle the heavy emotional themes as well as Warrior.

My gut tells me it was the acting on the part of Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte. But thinking upon it more, it was really the performances combined with the amazing screenwriting and directing.  The way the dialogue slowly and delicately reveals more and more layers of past emotional complication and family history is a wonderful method of storytelling by director/screenwriter Gavin O’Connor.

The film starts off with Tommy (Tom Hardy) showing up at the door of the now-sober father he and his mother fled from when he was a kid.  They hadn’t seen each other since that day many years before.  Tommy really doesn’t say much, he doesn’t try to reconcile with his father, he just wants his father to help him train for an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) tournament, no emotional strings attached.

Later we are introduced to Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a relatively unknown UFC fighter turned physics teacher who is probably going to lose his house because of medical bills from his daughter’s open heart surgery.

Just like string cheese (mmm string cheese) the next layer is peeled and we find out that Tommy’s father is also Brendan’s father, and they are also estranged. I won’t give any more away, but I’ll tell you, there are some powerful scenes, brilliantly acted by Hardy, Edgerton, and Nolte.

But what about the fighting?  It was awesome.  Warrior perfectly balances the action with the story.  This isn’t just a showy fighting flick.  That doesn’t mean the fighting is missing, though.  It is most certainly there and it demonstrates why MMA is way cooler than boxing (so many boxing movies…) and much more enjoyable to watch.

Warrior run 140 minutes and is rated PG-13.  Because it’s a fighting film, I wouldn’t watch it with younger kids, but older kids (boys especially) will really get into it.  I give it a strong Jimmy-was-moved 9 ramheads out of 10.  Go see this film! (You can see it on Amazon Prime like I did :).