Last week, during a rather ambitious fit of motivation, I convinced a friend of mine to join me in playing squash. My attempts over the years at sticking to a regular workout scheme have had a sour tendency to fail, as my motivation tends to vanish as spontaneously as it appears. Over this summer, I’ve done really well in keeping up jogging on a relatively regular basis, but at some point I’ve realised that the chances of me continuing to run outside as it’s turning progressively colder, darker and wetter is anorexic (which is to say extremely slim), and that I should find an alternative activity if I’m to have any chance at keeping up the good work.
So far we’ve had three squash sessions, and wooh, it’s so much fun! Besides from being one of the most effective ways to work out, I find it genuinely enjoyable. Also, I’m lucky enough that my mate is patient enough to put up with my complete lack of skill and my slow progress, which allows me to put pride and dignity aside and concentrate on having fun.
In the spirit of physical aspirations, I thought I’d do something as unlikely as to recommend a sports film. A physical combat film, at that, namely ‘Warrior‘ (2011). As I’ve never been a massive sports fan, I often find the films in this genre rather tedious. When I first saw the poster for this film, I wasn’t interested in the least; as a matter of fact, I immediately wrote it off as something I would not be likely to watch. Granted, this was after I had decided that Tom Hardy wasn’t just hyped up, but genuinely talented, but I wasn’t familiar with the director, and apart from showing off some unbelievably ripped torsos, the poster just didn’t appeal to me.
However, online murmurs gradually began to reach me that this might be something more than what it seemed. Eventually a friend of mine watched, and he recommended it heartily, so I changed my mind and decided to watch it after all, not knowing anything about the plot. Something something about not judging a book (or a film, as it were) by its cover, because I really didn’t expect what I got.
‘Warrior‘ crept its way almost unnoticed onto the Norwegian film market. Possibly having been considered to be too similar to ‘The Wrestler‘, or perhaps for some other reason, it was deemed unworthy for cinema release and was released straight to DVD/Blu-ray. A huge blunder in my opinion, because this film really deserves attention.
The two estranged brothers, Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy (Tom Hardy) have drifted apart as a result of growing up in a broken home with an alcoholic father (Nick Nolte). Driven by their own separate causes, they both sign up for an MMA championship and are brought together under unlikely and challenging circumstances.
The resemblance to ‘The Wrestler‘ (which is also worth a watch) is undeniable: it uses the same raw and unglamorous filming and storytelling style, and centers around persons in the fighting industry; this time MMA, one of the toughest sports in the world. There are quite a few MMA combats in the film, but the fighting sequences are focused and delivered in small, concentrated doses, so people like me, who find long fighting scenes tedious, never have time to get bored. Rather surprisingly, I found that I was a lot more interested in the combats than I had anticipated, and was quite impressed by the some of the really impressive moves.
Essentially though, it’s the scenes outside the ring that make the film interesting, though perhaps not so much the due to the plotline as to the magnificent acting. Hardy – who is something of a Midas, and also outrageously bulked up for this role -, Edgerton and Nolte all deliver stellar performances (Nolte received an Oscar nomination for his) and turns what could have been a bland and unoriginal story into an engaging and touching action drama. I cheered, I cringed, I cried – I rated the film 9 stars on IMDb.
A couple of other sports films I’ve recently watched and genuinely enjoyed are ‘Million Dollar Baby’ (2004) and ‘Moneyball’ (2011).
Which is your favourite sports film?