FILM OF THE WEEK: Warrior
Tuesday January 28, 9pm on 5*
Mention mixed martial arts in conversation and the only name most British people will bring up is that of Alex Reid, the journeyman fighter and jilted former paramour of Katie Price. Despite this apparent lack of exposure, the sport is flourishing both domestically and globally, with London’s O2 set to sell out when the multi-million dollar Ultimate Fighting Championship holds its latest event there in March. So it should come as no surprise that Hollywood sought to tap into MMA’s burgeoning appeal with 2011’s Warrior.
What is surprising is how effective the film manages to be, despite being lumbered with the most melodramatic set-up one could conceive. Tom Hardy, in prime slab of beef mode, plays a war hero looking to provide for the family of a fallen colleague; Joel Edgerton is his estranged brother, a high school teacher with a wife, two daughters and a mortgage he’s struggling to pay. As it turns out, both are also rather handy with their fists and feet, and when an MMA tournament with a $5m prize pops up, it looks to be the answer to both men’s prayers.
Never mind if you’ve seen the trailer (which reveals most of the important plot points) or not – it’s pretty obvious which two fighters will battle their way through the competition to face one another in a grand finale. Yet even with all this going against it, somehow Warrior still manages to pack a hefty emotional punch. Nick Nolte is at his gruffest best as the two men’s recovering alcoholic father, and by the film’s stirring final act only the hardest of souls will find themselves unmoved.
SET THE RECORDER FOR:
Channel 4, Saturday January 25, 1:35am
If Twilight was a vampire film about the merits of staying chaste and virginal, then Park Chan-wook’s Thirst is its cracked mirror image – no great shock to fans of Korean director Park’s blend of extreme cinema. Playing on themes of repression unleashed and morality blemished, Thirst makes its central bloodsucker a priest who discovers his passion for all things of the flesh after life-saving surgery goes rather wrong. While the final act sags a little, it is redeemed by a perfectly poetic conclusion.
Film4, Saturday January 25, 1:45am
If you’re a fan of HBO series Girls (broadcast in the UK on Sky Atlantic), then Tiny Furniture is pretty much essential viewing. Written and directed by Girls creator Lena Dunham, it was pretty much the calling card that exposed her talent to the wider world. Even if it was shot on a shoestring budget in her own home, with her mum and sister playing the film’s two other main protagonists.
30 Days Of Night
Channel 4, Saturday January 25, 11:45pm
Yes, another vampire movie, but another vampire movie that actually does something worthwhile with Stoker’s classic creation. Set in an Alaskan town preparing to say goodbye to the sun for a month, its fanged-fiends aren’t conflicted with guilt or suffering the pangs of teenage love – they are simply black-eyed, sharp-toothed angels of death. Relying on a brutally cumulative sense of dread rather than cheap scares, the final scene is almost identical to that of Thirst, but no less satisfying for it.