Fresh on 4K Ultra HD: ‘WARRIOR’ wrestles with the quality of its upgrade

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

WARRIOR

Rated PG-13, 140 min.
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Cast: Joel EdgertonTom HardyNick NolteJennifer MorrisonFrank GrilloKevin Dunn and Maximiliano Hernández

Lionsgate continues its streak of releasing older films onto the budding 4K UHD format this week with the Mixed Martial Arts family drama WARRIOR, and the results are somewhat hit and miss.

Movie Grade: B+

WARRIOR follows the story of Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton), two estranged brothers who only agree on two things: Their disdain for their abusive recovering alcoholic father, Paddy (Nick Nolte), and the sport of MMA fighting. Tommy and Brendan lead very separate lives, but both find themselves competing in the same fighting tournament, where only one can emerge the victor.

While it certainly draws influence from past fighting films like ROCKY or THE FIGHTER, what elevates WARRIOR from familiar territory are its focus on its characters as well as the immense respect on display for the world of MMA. The film gives just enough exposition for its three main characters without oversimplifying their relationships to each other, giving the viewer the sense they are seeing a real family with a real history. This approach does leave far more questions than answers, but ultimately accomplishes the story it sets out to tell. Yet, the film really shines when its characters step into the ring. Hardy and Edgerton are both clearly committed to giving an authentic portrayal of a truly brutal sport.

Video/Audio Grade: B-

Once again, this is a film that was captured on a 35mm source, mastered in a 2K Digital Intermediate and upscaled to 4K for this new release. As is the way when working with 35mm film, there is a heavy amount of grain present on the screen. The opening establishing shot of Pittsburgh was so full of noise, I actually questioned whether or not I had put the correct disc into my player. The added detail is indeed an improvement, but this is hardly a conversion to get excited about. Likewise, the updated color spectrum of HDR can only go so far with a film featuring an already desaturated pallet. That being said, the increased contrast in the tournament scenes is quite noticeable as the brightly lit Octagon is far removed from the darker crowds outside the ring.

As for the audio, WARRIOR comes with an updated Dolby Atmos track and is spectacular when the punches start flying. However, the same cannot be said during the softer moments of dialogue in the film. I often found myself needing to rewind moments where both Hardy and Nolte mumbled their way through a scene. Perhaps this was the filmmaker’s intent to contrast the bolstering bombardment in the ring with these softer conversations, but the end product is ultimately a mixed bag.

Left, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton face off in ‘WARROR.’ Courtesy of Blu-ray.com.

Extras Grade: B-

The supplemental material found in this re-release doesn’t necessarily offer anything new to fans who already own the 2011 Blu-ray. To its credit, about half of the special features made their way to the UHD disc this time around, but anyone hoping to see potentially unreleased material may be disappointed.

Special Features and Technical Specs:

  • Experience every hard-hitting punch in Dolby Vision high-dynamic range (HDR) and enjoy the thrills of the ring in four times the resolution of Full HD.
  • Audio commentary with writer-director Gavin O’Connor, co-writer Anthony Tambakis, editor John Gilroy and actor Joel Edgerton
  • “Redemption: Bringing Warrior to Life” Documentary
  • “Philosophy in Combat: Mixed Martial Arts Strategy” Featurette
  • “Simply Believe: A Tribute to Charles ‘Mask’ Lewis, Jr.” Featurette
  • “Cheap Shots” Gag Reel
  • “Brother vs. Brother: Anatomy of the Fight” Featurette
  • “The Diner” Deleted Scene with Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte (with optional commentary)
  • Full Contact: Blu-ray Enhanced Viewing Mode – an in-depth, original and personal look at WARRIOR with the cast and crew (Blu-ray only)

Final Grade: B-

WARRIOR is an underappreciated gem that absolutely deserves a second chance from fans who passed back in 2011. If you’re looking for a boxing movie with a twist as well as eager to expand your 4K collection, look no further.

WARRIOR is available today on 4K Ultra HD.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.