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Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Warrior Movie Poster Image
Fantastic family drama features intense martial-arts fights.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 139 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 13 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's overall message is that to be a family, you need unconditional love -- and that you have to forgive yourself for past wrongs. Additionally, there's a positive lesson about a healthy marriage and family dynamic versus the very dysfunctional family dynamic that the three main characters display.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Brendan is a scrappy underdog who works hard to achieve his success in the ring. He's also a wonderful husband and father who treats his wife like an equal and has mature debates with her when they disagree about issues. Although his brother is cruel to him, Brendan obviously loves Tommy unconditionally, despite their years of silence. Even Paddy -- a repentant alcoholic who truly wants to make amends -- can be considered a role model. Tommy, on the other hand, is mostly haunted and conflicted; the only person he's kind to is his best friend's widow.


The entire movie centers around mixed martial arts (MMA) fights; some are quick (an instant knock-out), while others are brutal and drawn out. Characters get seriously hurt (a few look like they're nearly unconscious during/after a fight), and in a couple of cases, fighters have bones broken. There's not much blood, and no one is killed, but the competitors sport a variety of bruises and are shown limping or dragging their wounded limbs. The fighting style involves arms and legs, so there's a lot of intense punching, kicking, headlocks, body slamming, and more. Commentators narrate the action and often talk about how so-and-so looks like he's "getting killed," "not moving," etc.


A husband and wife kiss, embrace, and have a couple of mature late-night conversations in the bathroom -- once while she's in her underwear and tank top, another while he's shirtless and in the tub. Women in bikinis are "ring girls."


Language includes "s--t," "bulls--t," "ass," "hell," "idiot," one use of "f--k," "crap," "damn," "goddamned," "oh my God," etc. Insulting and hurtful words are exchanged by estranged relatives.


No overt product placements, but the movie is bound to draw attention to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the mixed martial arts (MMA) style of kickboxing. ESPN is briefly shown in a couple of scenes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An older man -- an alcoholic -- falls off the wagon and is shown drunk, disoriented, and nearly incoherent. There are empty bottles strewn around a hotel room to show just how much he's had to drink. A character is known to be a pill-popper and is made to relinquish his prescription bottles in a somewhat humorous manner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a touching family drama wrapped in an intense "David vs. Goliath"-style fight. The movie deals with some weighty issues that most younger kids won't fully understand: the conflicted relationship between fathers and sons, the estrangement of brothers, alcoholism, and the willingness of a husband and father to do whatever it takes to help his family. The movie's many mixed martial arts sequences are fast and furious and feature a lot of beatdowns, but no one is killed -- just down for the count. There's some profanity ("s--t," "ass," "goddamned," etc.) and some marital intimacy (two bathroom conversations with the couple half-dressed, and a kiss or two), but otherwise it's really only the themes and violence that make this movie an iffy pick for younger viewers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9, 13, 14, 14, 15, and 16 year old Written bymamaof9 September 21, 2011

A surprise

WOW !! I questioned seeing this with our sons as it is quite violent ,cursing is present ect, but I ended up so glad we did. While not for younger viewers, it g... Continue reading
Adult Written byMossfish Daddy Budd September 21, 2011

Dads, Sons and Brothers

Very emotional and very worthwhile, A must see for Dads, sons and brothers. I saw it with 2 of my sons, want to go now and see it with the rest Not for youngst... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTheSkyHadAWeegee September 23, 2011

Brilliant MMA drama has lots of violence

This brilliant martial arts drama is up there with 2011's best. While there are smaller issues such as around 20 S-bombs and 1 F-bomb, the main issue is th... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byActionmoviefan101 November 12, 2011

Loved it!

Definitely a inspirational movie, I loved it! Reminded me of mixed martial arts version of the Rocky films. Anyway... Yes it is violent, especially during the l... Continue reading

What's the story?

Troubled Iraq vet Tommy (Tom Hardy) returns home for the first time in more than a decade with one purpose -- to get back in the "cage" of mixed martial arts and provide for a fallen fellow Marine's family. A former wrestling prodigy, Tommy asks his father (Nick Nolte), a recovering alcoholic, to train him for Sparta: a high-profile, winner-takes-all competition with a $5 million purse. Meanwhile, Tommy's estranged brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a former UFC fighter turned physics teacher, realizes that he must also get back in the cage to raise much-needed money to save his home. An unexpected opportunity allows Brendan to join his fierce younger brother in the single-elimination tournament ... but before meeting in the ring, they must face their troubled past.

Is it any good?

Director Gavin O'Connor has created a perfect vehicle for two of Hollywood's most compelling imported actors: English scene-stealer Hardy and Aussie leading man Edgerton. Both are positively amazing in this film, but they personify completely opposing cinematic types. Hardy's Tommy is the aloof champion with a tortured soul, and Edgerton's Brendan is the scrappy underdog who will stop at nothing to keep his family intact. The brothers are like two suns, with the other characters orbiting around one or the other and the audience left figuring out whom is more deserving of their loyalty.


Both men are flawed, but the director tips the balance in Brendan's favor by showing his circle of supporters: an inspiring coach (Frank Grillo) who uses Beethoven's music to keep his fighters calm in the cage; a beautiful, loving wife (House alum Jennifer Morrison); and a classroom of awed high-school students who can't help but cheer for their science teacher. Nolte is also a revelation, his croaky voice underscoring Paddy's tremendous sadness at having alienated both of his sons. Despite all of the movie's thrilling MMA sequences, this is ultimately a poignant family drama where it's brotherly love, not millions of dollars, that's at stake. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's violence. How does the mixed martial arts (MMA) style of fighting compare to straight boxing or professional wresting? Which is more violent?

  • How does the movie portray father-son relationships? Is the father a sympathetic character or a pathetic one? Do his sons come off as justified in their treatment of him?

  • Tommy and Brendan aren't typical movie brothers. How do they differ from other competitive brothers? Which brother is more likable -- the champion or the underdog?

  • Brendan is a beloved high-school science teacher. Is his relationship with his students believable? Would you root for a teacher in a similar situation?

Movie details

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