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It is often said that nothing trumps a classic. 1976’s Rocky is considered a classic by viewers and critics alike. Similar fighting movies have come along but the public opinion remains that Rocky will always be the best.

Of course, Hollywood has taken advantage of this with 5 more direct sequels and a spin-off franchise in Creed.

I felt the same way about Rocky. Then I came across a film that is just as well-directed and emotionally potent, perhaps even more so. Although it was nominated for one Oscar (Nick Nolte for Best Supporting Actor), not many people have seen or heard of the film.

Warrior, released in 2011, stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. It follows the story of two estranged brothers, struggling to scrape by. For both, the prize money of a major MMA tournament would help their lives immensely.

We are introduced to the brothers separately. Tommy is a Marine who served overseas. Brendan is a high school science teacher. Both grew up being coached in wrestling and boxing by their alcoholic father.

Tommy and Brendan realize, on their own separate terms, that they must fight to earn a living.

The internal struggle of Tommy, fresh out of battle, is what leads him back to the ring. Meanwhile, Brendan finds himself in financial peril, needing another way to provide for his family.

So they turn to fighting, the one thing that they’ve always been good at.

They haven’t seen each other since they were children, one went with mom when she got sick. The other stayed with dad. One watched their mother die in the hospital. The other saw their father nearly drink himself to death.

Two brothers who established their own lives separate from each other now find themselves on the same path.

The fight scenes put you in the ring. You can feel every punch. The characters are deep and relatable and the acting is superb. As the story unfolds, you will find yourself rooting for both brothers–not wanting either to lose.

All in all, Warrior is a rare fighting movie, one that challenges the greatness of a true classic.

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