Warrior Blu-ray Review
Warrior comes to US Region A-locked Blu-ray with a solid video presentation that has received a fair amount of criticism since its debut less than a month ago. Honestly, I have it on good authority that this is a very accurate rendition of the movie as seen at the cinemas, and I don’t really know what all the fuss is about – sure it’s not a perfect video presentation, but you’ve also got to remember that it’s not a glossy, perfect-looking Michael Bay movie we’re dealing with, it’s relatively gritty, fairly independently-budgeted work, which costs about a tenth of what a Transformers movie costs to make.
This 1080p High Definition video presentation comes framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent throughout, whether in capturing the cinematic location shots or the close-ups on the fighters as they sweat and bleed their way through round after round. You can see the drops of sweat actually beading up on their close-cropped hair, and, whatever issues this video presentation does or does not have, there is no problem with the detail. The colour scheme too is perfectly accurate in representing the various locations, normally quite sombre in tone, with faded colours in the palette, and reasonably strong blacks at the far end, allowing for decent enough shadowing.
The problems are really twofold, and both of them, it could be argued, are a side-effect of the director’s stylistic choices: the shots often fly in and out of focus, as the cameraman adopts a sort-of cinema verite style; and also the noise levels fluctuate massively, often way beyond what you’d accept for a suitably filmic grain structure. That said, for me, both of these were more stylistic choices that actually went with the material – but for those who would have preferred if the image had looked more classically perfect, I can see why there would have been some inherent disappointment here. In my opinion, it’s a very strong video presentation, but one which really could probably never be used for demo purposes.
Lionsgate and the filmmakers are proud to offer you three separate audio options on this "Warrior" Blu-ray disc. These are intended to make the highest quality audio experience available to the home viewer, depending on your listening environment.
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio – the best choice for properly aligned 5.1 surround home theatre systems. This represents the original theatrical experience as the filmmakers intended.
English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio – this option was mixed for those who specifically have a discrete four-channel surround 7.1 home theatre set up. It is specifically created to provide a more enveloping and immersive surround experience.
English 2.0 Dolby Digital – created for systems with only two speakers or for a Dolby Pro-Logic decoding system if available.
There are three audio flavours for Warrior, and the discs’s own ‘instructions’ sum the situation up quite nicely really. All three are excellent offerings, although clearly viewers will favour one of the two lossless tracks, hopefully opting – as is recommended – for the 5.1 track if that’s what their system dictates. It’s that track that I shall focus on.
Dialogue is clearly and coherently presented from the frontal array, dominating the proceedings in spite of the often thunderous score and frequently thumping effects, and even above the raucous crowd that cheers through the latter parts of the movie. Effects are myriad, from the atmospheric noises that bring the streets, gym club, school and home neighbourhoods to life; little things like the kids’ party and the classroom joviality allowing for a consistently immersive offering, even outside of the ring. Perhaps the most ambiently immersive moment comes from the Iraq sequence which allows helicopters to whirr overhead and the dusty desert setting to wash against you.
Of course the ringside action steps things up to another level, particularly as the crowds grow from the patrons of a strip club to the screaming thousands at an arena and these moments really sound stunning on this track, bringing your living room to life as if your sofa was a ringside seat. Fireworks set the stage, drums pounding in the background, and then the thunderous blows come quick and fast, the slaps against the mat and the penetrating call at the close of a round punctuating the sequences with power and presence. The score, as stated, drifts from melancholy introspection – truly getting to the core of the drama – to a somewhat unnecessarily contrived riff on Beethoven, which can get a bit intrusive, but which sometimes sits back and allows the more percussive original scoring to take hold. Bass provides a brooding undercurrent to the proceedings and overall this is an excellent aural accompaniment which excels at every level and which is demo quality in every way. Arguably the most complete and satisfying audio provision that I have come across on a release, Warrior is highly impressive.
Warrior comes to US Blu-ray with a hefty selection of extra features, which basically cover all the bases: commentary, PiP, documentary, deleted footage, featurettes. What more could you ask for? But are they any good?
Full Contact: Feature Length Enhanced Viewing Mode
Warrior: Full Contact is an in-depth, original and personal journey through the film with the filmmakers. Explore exclusive content presented in an uncensored and hosted environment shot on location at a real mixed martial arts octagon fighting cage. Created exclusively for the Blu-ray format, Warrior: Full Contact is a rich experience that will take the viewer deep into the world of this unique film.
Despite this somewhat unnecessary little introduction from the disc menu, Warrior: Full Contact is not only just another Picture-in-Picture track, it’s probably not even one of the better ones that I’ve come across. Of course it does everything you would expect from it – providing background footage of the film and the fights being shot; interview snippets with all the major players, both cast and crew; and attempting to often relate it back to the on-screen events (which play in the movie, frequently taking a back-seat in a smaller frame to the bottom) – but it can actually be a little bit fluffy and self-congratulatory. Still, it’s nice to hear from many of the filmmakers, perhaps even more so than the cast, and fans will want to at least dip in and out of this offering.
Feature Audio Commentary with Filmmakers and Actor Joel Edgerton
The director is joined by the co-writer and the editor, as well as star Edgerton, to provide an interesting, informative commentary on the movie, from its origins (as a vaguely loose based-on-real-life story), to the plot evolution and changes, the casting (the father’s part was written for Nolte) and the fight choreography (Edgerton’s actually a black belt in Karate). Worth a listen, and probably more enjoyable than the Picture-in-Picture track.
Redemption: Bringing Warrior to Life is a hefty half-hour making-of documentary which provides a solid overview and reasonable comprehensive background into the production, with all the expected video interviews from the cast and filmmakers, as well as plenty of behind the scenes clips of both the smaller dialogue scenes and the well-choreographed fight sequences. Although it feels like overkill by now – much of this information you’d have already gleaned from the audio commentary and the PiP track – this is still a nice offering, particularly for those who one just a summary of everything.
Brother vs. Brother: Anatomy of The Fight looks at the climactic final fight, comparing it to the original storyboards and looking at how they plotted out every single move. It’s an interesting 12 minute Featurette.
Philosophy in Combat: Mixed Martial Arts Strategy spends 21 minutes with some Mixed Martial Arts experts, looking at the realism of the sport as depicted in the movie and offering some nice background into it.
Simply Believe: A Tribute to Charles “Mask” Lewis, Jr is literally what it says on the tin, a 14 minute tribute to the late Lewis, who, by all accounts, is not only the co-founder of Tapout, but also the reason why this movie exists in the first place.
Deleted Scene (with Optional Commentary)
The Diner was apparently the first scene in the movie that they shot, and, apparently, the filmmakers on set actually gave Nick Nolte a standing ovation for what he brought to this scene. I actually think that there are far more powerful scenes by Nolte in the movie, but this is a great little moment, and one which I would have loved to have seen left in the movie, even though I know that it just would not fit in with the later scenes – particularly given that Tommy actually responds to his dad’s story in this little conversation. Worth checking out though.
Cheap Shots is a 4-minute Gag Reel that just feels totally out of place on this release, and not in the least bit fun or funny (either would have been sufficient).
Finally the first disc is rounded off by a bunch of Trailers. There is also a separate DVD copy of the film.
Let's Go to War!
Warrior is not only one of the better films of 2011, but also one of the most underrated, undervalued gems of such an unusual year in filmmaking. Right from its melancholy opening track and poignant, cut-to-the-core opening scene, through to the undeniably powerful conclusion; driven by its core trio of stunning performances, given momentum by its entertaining fight sequences, but made exceptional by its below-the-surface look at emotional conflict, if you missed it during its theatrical run, or were put off by its mis-marketed promotion as a wall-to-wall fight movie, then now is the time to rectify the situation.
On Region A-locked Blu-ray we get very good video, excellent audio and a hefty selection of extras that covers all the bases. Fans will want to pick this up immediately, and newcomers are strongly advised to give this one a shot: it might surprise you.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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