Lionsgate’s MMA film, “Warrior”, directed by Gavin O’Connor, was just released this past Friday and has been doing pretty well at the box office, especially when you consider the competition around it. We all know MMA fans will see it no matter what, but the true question is will mainstream movie goers check it out? I am a big fan of Roger Ebert and his reviews, since he looks at a movie for what it is and does not place himself on some higher pedestal of snobbery where only movies by Jean-Pierre Melville and Goddard are worth his time. No sir, Ebert is the voice of the people, so I greatly looked forward to his thoughts on “Warrior” and MMA as a whole.
Ebert wrote on his website, “Warrior” is a fight picture that arrives with perfect logic at a climax involving not one but three key bouts, and we forgive the coincidence that provides not one protagonist but two.” This was a key point that the famed reviewer truly enjoyed, since it broke with traditional screenplay format of essentially giving equal time to each of our male leads, “What is intriguing is that “Warrior” doesn’t have a favorite. We understand and like both characters, and so does the film. Director and co-writer Gavin O’Connor arrives at that standoff by playing fair: Both have motives, they are long estranged after an unhappy split in childhood, and in some ways, they hate each other.”
“Mixed martial arts is a sport that perplexes me,” postulates Ebert. “I never quite understand how any of the fighters stay conscious for even one round. Hitting, butting, kicking, tripping and slamming are all part of the game, and I may be naive, but it all looks real to me. The punishment the fighters take is so severe that it strains credulity that the final matches are held during such a small time frame.”
Like many movie-goer’s, Ebert was a fan of the action sequences, but not entirely. “The fight scenes are choreographed and filmed with great energy and probably too much queasy-cam. Although the fighters must duck and weave, why must the camera?”
Ebert gave the film three out of five stars, which to many of you might seem low. However, Ebert uses that same selective star system I adhere to in my film reviews, and three stars put “Warrior” on par with “Attack of the Block”, “Friends with Benefits”, “Contagion”, and “Winnie the Pooh”. The review closed with, “This is a rare fight movie in which we don’t want to see either fighter lose. That brings such complexity to the final showdown that hardly anything could top it – but something does, and “Warrior” earns it.”