I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Connor Bynum // Film Critic
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.
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.