Today's match-up features two films about biology teachers who dabble in MMA fighting. Who knew that was such a popular subject? One is a drama and one is a comedy, but only one is worth your time and money.
This criminally overlooked drama from last year was mostly ignored because people assumed it was either a dumb sports movie, or a knock-off of "The Fighter" or "The Wrestler." It was none of the above. In fact, it was a powerful story about the relationship between two brothers, about fighting for what you believe in, about redemption, about love, and hell if it didn't leave every audience a sobbing mess at its conclusion. The film follows estranged brothers Tom Hardy as a former Marine and Joel Edgerton as a biology teacher trying to raise money to save his family from financial ruin, who end up facing off in a life-altering MMA championship. Nick Nolte's performance as their neglectful, alcoholic father snagged him an Oscar nomination.
In many ways, the reaction to "Warrior" is reminiscent of this year's "End of Watch" — both were dismissed because of run-of-the-mill trailers or because they're from typically underwhelming genres, and thus were skipped by audiences and not recognized nearly enough by major awards bodies. We still find ourselves recommending "Warrior," even over many of 2012's best. Character drama at its finest, and further proof that Tom Hardy is a genius, "Warrior" is a gem and absolutely worth a watch
Not: "Here Comes The Boom"
In an all-too-eerie similarity to "Warrior," "Here Comes the Boom" is about a biology teacher who moonlights as an MMA fighter in order to raise money to save the music program at the school. The film, starring Kevin James and Henry Winkler, was directed by mediocre comedy veteran Frank Coraci, whose best work (and perhaps his only quality work) to date is easily "The Wedding Singer." The film was ripped apart by critics, ending up at an abysmal 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, which also stars Salma Hayek as the school nurse, opened in fifth place at the box office, making it somewhat of a commercial failure, as well as a critical one.
Since the film features handful of fighter cameos, it is perhaps worth a watch on cable if you're a fan of MMA in general, but as an inspirational sports movie or comedy, "Here Comes the Boom" really doesn't have much to offer. If the idea of a film set against the backdrop of the world of mixed martial arts sounds interesting to you, don't bother with this shlock and go for the real deal instead.