Warrior (2011 film)

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Two shirtless, muscled men stand against a black background. The word "Warrior" is written sideways between them.
Theatrical poster
Directed by Gavin O'Connor
Produced by Gavin O'Connor
Greg O'Connor
Screenplay by Gavin O'Connor
Cliff Dorfman
Anthony Tambakis
Story by Gavin O'Connor
Cliff Dorfman
Starring Tom Hardy
Joel Edgerton
Jennifer Morrison
Frank Grillo
Nick Nolte
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography Masanobu Takayanagi
Edited by Sean Albertson
Matt Chesse
John Gilroy
Aaron Marshall
Mimran Schur Pictures
Solaris Entertainment
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date(s)
  • September 9, 2011 (2011-09-09)
Running time 140 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[2]
Box office $23,057,115[2]

Warrior is a 2011 American sports drama film directed by Gavin O'Connor and starring Tom Hardy, about two estranged brothers whose entrance into a mixed martial arts tournament force them to come to terms with their past and each other. Nick Nolte was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the father of the two brothers.


U.S. Marine Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy) visits his father, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), a recovering alcoholic who has become a born-again Christian. Tommy is bitter about his father's formerly abusive behavior and the fact that he had to run away with his dying mother when he was just a boy; Paddy fails to convince him that he has truly changed. The next day, Tommy enters a gym where he beats a professional fighter named Pete "Mad Dog" Grimes (Erik Apple) unconscious in less than 30 seconds, in a fight which is filmed via a cell phone's video camera and later uploaded to the Internet, where it goes viral. Tommy learns about a winner-takes-all mixed martial arts tournament called Sparta in which the winner will receive $5,000,000. In order to provide for the family of his fallen friend in the Marine Corps, Tommy asks his father to help him train for the tournament, but only under the condition that Paddy does not try to reconcile their relationship.

Meanwhile, Tommy's older brother, Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton), a high school physics teacher and former UFC fighter, is struggling to financially provide for his wife Tess (Jennifer Morrison) and two daughters and faces the possibility of his home getting foreclosed due to mortgage re-financing to pay for his younger daughter's open heart surgery. To increase his income, Brendan risks returning to his former profession as a mixed martial arts fighter battling amateur fighters for money. Rumors of Brendan fighting in the ring begin spreading amongst his students. The school's superintendent, objecting to his participation in such dangerous activities, suspends him without pay. Left with no other option, Brendan seeks the training of old friend Frank Campana (Frank Grillo) and begins competing in smaller venue fights. After the fighter Frank planned to enter into the Sparta tournament is injured during training, Brendan convinces Frank to enter him as a replacement. Later that night, Paddy comes over to meet up with Brendan in his drive way to try to reconcile with him, but to no avail. Even though Brendan had forgiven his father, he still doesn't trust him, and doesn't want his father starting trouble with his own family. Before Paddy leaves, he tells Brendan that he's been sober for 1,000 days, and that Tommy is back in town, and to be sure to look him up.

After arriving at the tournament, Brendan discovers that Tommy has also entered. Tommy is still bitter at Brendan for staying behind with Tess when Tommy and their mother left the drunken and abusive Paddy; Tommy was left to care for their mother when she became terminally ill. Brendan claims that he has forgiven his father for the wrong he has done, but Tommy is unconvinced.

Meanwhile, the video of Tommy beating "Mad Dog" attracts the attention of a Marine in Iraq whose life was saved by Tommy months prior. The information and video of Tommy saving the Marine is shared with the press and Tommy becomes a national hero, gaining a massive fan base and appreciation from not only viewers, but from the U.S. Marine Corps as well. However, Tommy's records surface from the Corps and reveal that he deserted the military after his entire unit was killed in a friendly fire bombing. Tommy had been using his mother's maiden name as his own surname in order to evade arrest for his desertion. The military police will take him into custody after the tournament is over.

Over two nights, Brendan and Tommy have contrasting fortunes: Tommy quickly and brutally knocks out opponents. Brendan, meanwhile, has a much tougher time, outmatched physically but utilizing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to force submissions.

Tommy's Preliminary fight ends quickly, after a short feeling out process, Tommy knocks out his opponent after landing his first strike. In Brendan's preliminary fight, he is out wrestled throughout the fight and is caught in a tight rear naked choke, unable to escape he waits out the clock and survives. Going into the second round, He is able to secure a Kimura for a submission victory. Brendan advances to the quarter finals, where after taking several unanswered body shots, locks in an armbar. In Tommy's quarter final bout, he finds success early again earning a TKO victory.

In the semi-final match, Brendan is matched up with Pound for Pound king, Koba. A huge underdog going into the fight, Brendan is dominated. Out struck and out muscled, Brendan has a difficult time mounting an effective offense and survives the first round. The second round, again proves unsuccessful for Brendan. In his corner, coach Frank gives harsh words of encouragement to motivate Brendan. Answering the bell of round three, Brendan finds new life and swings for the fences, making the bout a back and forth battle. In the closing moments of the final round, Koba takes Brendan's back from the clinch and Brendan goes for a Rolling Kneebar. As Koba attempts to escape the position, Brendan quickly reverses and readjusts the Kneebar narrowly winning by submission over the heavily favored Russian fighter Koba (Kurt Angle), in the biggest upset. Tommy meets Mad Dog Grimes in the semifinals and this time Tommy tackles Mad Dog and within 10 seconds, knocks him unconscious with continuous punches until the ref pulls him off, albeit a very late stoppage.

The night before the final day, Paddy attempts to talk to Tommy about his actions in Iraq only to be berated and dismissed, which the following morning has caused a distraught Paddy to relapse and start drinking again. Seeing his terrible pain, Tommy calms and comforts him. In the end the brothers are the last fighters remaining in the tournament, and despite Brendan's desire to reconcile, they unleash all the anger they have towards one another.

The fight between the brothers shows Tommy having the upper hand initially, winning the first two rounds using his wrestling skills and brute strength. In the closing moments of the second round, Tommy proceeds to throw strike at Brendan despite the round had ended. The third begins and Tommy again finds more success but Brendan manages to attempt an armbar. Tommy escapes the submission but Brendan quickly transitions to an Omoplata technique, attacking the opposite arm. Brendan trys to use as little torque as possible to force Tommy to submit. Tommy refuses to tap and continues to strike with elbows with his free arm until Brendan dislocates Tommy's shoulder. While Brendan goes to his corner for advice and water, Tommy sits alone in his corner with no one to help him as Paddy is not there. With the fourth round starting, Brendan insists Tommy give up due to his injured shoulder. As Tommy continues trying to knockout Brendan, Brendan unloads a barrage of strikes onto Tommy, trying to end the fight. Tommy goads Brendan to continue hitting him as the fourth round ends. Both fighters return to their corners in tears. At the start of round five, Brendan drops his hands refusing to continue fighting his brother but Tommy persists. Tearfully Brendan realizes he has to force him to submit. Brendan lands a brutal head kick and traps Tommy in a rear naked choke. While they both lie struggling on the mat, Brendan tearfully apologizes to Tommy and tells him that he loves him. After some hesitation, Tommy taps. The two reconciled brothers exit the ring as their father smiles.



Described by critics as "heartbreaking and emotionally satisfying",[3] "really gripping",[4] "an unapologetic powerhouse of emotional conflict"[5] and self-described as a "rousing ode to redemption, reconciliation and the power of the human spirit", Warrior has received the most praise for the emotional approach it takes to the themes of forgiveness and "the enduring bonds of family" that it explores. In their review, Common Sense Media cites unconditional love as a major theme, further explaining that "some weighty issues" such as estrangement and alcoholism are also dealt with.[6]


Mogul Minds Studios, (now 31st Street Studios), located in Pittsburgh, was used during the filming, as well as the University of Pittsburgh's Petersen Events Center and the Twin Hi-Way Drive-In. North Hills Senior High School was also used for some scenes.[7][8] Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City was used for the exterior scenes of the main fight venue, along with scenes filmed on the boardwalk and beach.

Producers later told Esquire Magazine that the story and personality of main character Tommy Riordan was based on United States Marine Sergeant Ewan G.P. Pennington, who joined the military branch at age 17 in 2007. Greg O'Connor was quoted saying he met the young Marine during his second tour to Afghanistan, when another Marine told him a "heroic story" of the way Pennington saved his life during a night raid.

Hardy went through a demanding training routine for gaining muscle during the film's pre-production, gaining around 28 pounds (13 kg) of muscle (a physique which he also used to portray Bane in The Dark Knight Rises).[9]



The Men of Warrior book was released on July 19, 2011.[10] Lionsgate's "We Are All Warriors" project to support the release of Warrior by highlighting everyday heroes was launched August 1, 2011.[11]

Box office[edit]

Warrior debuted in third place in its first week at the U.S. box office with $5,242,107 behind Contagion and The Help.[12] It dropped down to #8 the following weekend.[13] Overall, the film was not a commercial success, making $13,657,115 in United States and Canada, and $9,400,000 in foreign countries for a worldwide total of $23,057,115, failing to reclaim its budget of $25,000,000.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Warrior received critical acclaim, with many praising the acting, fight scenes, cinematography, and music. According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 83% of critics gave the film a positive review, with an average score of 7.3 out of 10, based on 174 reviews. The site's consensus states: "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."[14] Metacritic reported a 71% average score from the 35 reviews it aggregated of the film, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[15]

Bruce Diones of The New Yorker highly praised the actors' performances, especially Tom Hardy's, as "convincingly real" and "sensational." He further complimented the film as "cathartic" and "winning," and said that the film as a whole "achieves a surprising compassion and honesty."[5] Simon Miraudo from Quickflix praised the character development of brothers Tommy Rearden and Brendan Conlon: "When they speak to each other for the first time in the film – amazingly, only once before they actually meet in the ring – we understand their relationship completely." He called the film as a whole "beautiful" in spite of how violent it is, and gave it 4 out of 5 stars.[3] Common Sense Media's Sandie Angulo Chen called the film "a touching family drama wrapped in an intense 'David vs. Goliath'-style fight."[6] Meanwhile, Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, declaring that "this is a rare fight movie in which we don't want to see either fighter lose," while praising Gavin O'Connor's direction and Nick Nolte's performance.[16] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone was also complimentary towards O'Connor, stating that he "comes out swinging in this flawed but fiercely moving family drama,"[17] while A.O. Scott of The New York Times credited the film for being "appropriately blunt, powerful and relentless," also praising the "skillfully staged" fight scenes.[18]

Some critics, including Philip French from the UK magazine The Observer, have noted similarities to other sports drama films such as Rocky (1976), The Wrestler (2008), and The Fighter (2010).[19]

Nick Nolte received much praise for his dramatic performance, garnering an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Home release[edit]

Warrior was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States on December 20, 2011. The Blu-ray release includes a DVD copy of the movie, as well as a downloadable digital copy. With the exception of the Blu-ray including an additional Feature Length Enhanced Viewing Mode, extras are similar between both releases.


Warrior: Original Score
Soundtrack album by Mark Isham
Released September 23, 2011
Genre Film score
Label Lakeshore
Producer Mark Isham

Warrior: Original Score is the soundtrack album for the film, composed and produced by Mark Isham. It was released by Lakeshore Records on September 13, 2011. The song "About Today" by the indie rock band The National was also featured on the soundtrack and also in the film during the final fight scene. The composition entitled "Listen to the Beethoven" incorporates elements of the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's ninth symphony, which is featured prominently throughout the film.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Listen to the Beethoven"
  2. "Paddy & Tommy"
  3. "Sparta – Night One"
  4. "I Can't Watch You Fight"
  5. "Koba"
  6. "Hero"
  7. "Brendan & Tess"
  8. "The Devil You Know"
  9. "Stop the Ship (Relapse)"
  10. "Warrior"
  11. "Brendan & Tommy"
  12. "About Today" (performed by The National)


  1. ^ "Warrior << British Board of Film Classification". British Board of Film Classification. 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  2. ^ a b c "Warrior (2011) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Simon Miraudo (October 25, 2011). "The fight stuff – Warrior review". Quickflix. 
  4. ^ David Edelstein (September 9, 2011). "Movie Review: The Clichéd, Great Warrior". New York Magazine. 
  5. ^ a b Bruce Diones. "Warrior : The New Yorker". The New Yorker. 
  6. ^ a b Sandie Angulo Chen. "Warrior - Movie Review". Common Sense Media. 
  7. ^ http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/movies/2009/05/08/One-two-punch-Warrior-filmmakers-drawn-by-city-s-look-state-s-incentives/stories/200905080160
  8. ^ http://triblive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/ae/movies/s_755729.html#axzz347VnZHYW
  9. ^ "Interview with Tom Hardy". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
  10. ^ "The Men of Warrior Coffee Table Book!". About.com. July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  11. ^ "We Are All Warriors: FIRST LOOK: Exclusive Photos from the Action-Drama Movie". iVillage. August 1, 2011. Retrieved August 1, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for September 9–11, 2011 - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for September 16–18, 2011 - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Warrior". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  15. ^ "Warrior Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. 
  16. ^ Roger Ebert. "Warrior". 
  17. ^ Peter Travers (September 8, 2011). "Warrior". Rolling Stone. 
  18. ^ A.O. Scott. "Warrior (2011)". The New York Times. 
  19. ^ Philip French (September 24, 2011). "Warrior – review". The Observer. The Observer. 

External links[edit]