Two estranged brothers are heading for an inevitable showdown in Gavin O‘Connor’s engrossing family drama WARRIOR.

What a great discovery I made recently with director Gavin O’Connor’s film WARRIOR. This 2011 family drama popped up in my VOD selection and I remembered it was a movie that I’d had on my ‘to see’ list but somehow missed. This was strange considering it stars the extraordinary Tom Hardy, the brilliant Joel Edgerton and the superb Nick Nolte. So I remedied that straight away and I have to tell you to track this movie down because you won’t be disappointed.

Tom Hardy is Tommy in Warrior

Tom Hardy is Tommy

It’s a turbulent, triangle story of two brothers and their father, set in the intense and dangerous world of mixed martial arts. There’s Tommy, an ex-Marine (a fabulously tough Hardy), his older brother Brendan, a high school teacher (Edgerton is both brilliantly rugged and tender) and Paddy, their father, a recovering alcoholic (Nolte at his wonderfully gravelly best).

Fighting has always been a part of this broken family and when Tommy returns to his Pittsburgh home and enlists his father, and former coach, to train him to win the prestigious Sparta tournament, it puts him on a path that will inevitably lead him to a showdown with Brendan, who’s been making his way up through the MMA ranks as somewhat of an underdog. The interplay between the three actors is superb, as they struggle with their past and look to forge a possibly more positive future between them.

Joel Edgerton is Brendan in Warrior

Joel Edgerton is Brendan

Director Gavin O’Connor brings a nicely gritty and unshowy quality to WARRIOR and it’s shot by Masanobu Takayanagi, whose previous work has included similar steely dramas such as Spotlight, State of Play, Out of the Furnace, and Black Mass. The acting, as you’d imagine from the three principals, is spot-on – Nolte was nominated for an Oscar for his performance – and there’s great support from a gutsy Jennifer Morrison as Brendan’s wife Tess, the always excellent Kevin Dunn as the principal at Brendan’s school.

WARRIOR keeps up the tension of the brothers’ relationship right up to the final punch and you’ll leave the film really moved. Make sure you see it.