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MMA on the Big Screen Alert: Nick Nolte to Star in ‘Warrior’

(Nolte as Four-Leaf Tayback in Tropic Thunder. Photo courtesy of IMDb.)

Could it be? An MMA movie that doesn’t involve an "underground fighting league" or one-armed combat? And it stars the lovably grizzled Nick Nolte? Color us interested. MMA Payout passes along this report:

Lionsgate and director Gavin O’Connor have set Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Morrison to star in "Warrior," a drama set in the world of mixed martial arts fighting. Production begins in April in Pittsburgh.
Nolte plays an ex-Vietnam vet boxer-turned-steel mill worker whose family was torn apart by his alcoholism; the now-sober and remorseful dad welcomes back his youngest son (Hardy) and trains him to compete in a mixed martial arts tournament. He and his older brother, played by Edgerton, are on a collision course in the ring.
O’Connor wrote the script with Anthony Tambakis, and the helmer will produce with brother Greg O’Connor.

Okay, so shades of Ken and Frank Shamrock, maybe, with the brother vs. brother thing. But here’s another sign that the movie could be worth a damn: Director Gavin O’Connor, who previously helmed Miracle and Pride and Glory, was the executive producer of The Smashing Machine, the landmark documentary about MMA cautionary tale Mark Kerr. So he knows the sport, and would likely bring an authentic point-of-view to his new project. Back in October, O’Connor gave a more detailed synopsis of the film to Premiere:

"The movie is about two estranged brothers that haven’t seen each other in 14 years, and they come back together and they are both mixed martial arts fighters. One of them, when we meet him, is a schoolteacher who is married. He has three little girls. His wife had a heart transplant so he is massively in debt. He starts fighting in what is called “Smokers.” They [happen] all over the country. There are guys [fighting] in parking lots in cages, and you can walk away with a couple of thousand dollars. The other brother we discover is AWOL from the Marines, and he has been arrested in Mexico and thrown in prison. Being a gringo in a Mexican prison wasn’t very easy, so he had to defend himself. The guy is an animal and was kicking everyone’s ass, and he became known as the king of this prison. Some guy got him out, and he traveled all around Mexico fighting these underground fights. And he ends up leaving there and going to see his father. Fourteen years before, he and his mother had left while the other brother and the father stayed. The father was an alcoholic and an emotionally abusive man, a Vietnam vet, ex-Golden Gloves fighter who taught his kids how to fight at a very young age. And the kid, Tommy, goes back to see his dad. Tommy is drinking now and [is a] pill popper. He comes home, and his father is a thousand days sober and is living a very different life. The story is about healing and forgiveness. There is a tournament called “Sparta” for the heavy weight championship of the world of mixed martial arts. It is a $5 million purse, and it is a 16-man grand prix tournament. And these two brothers are on a collision course to fight each other for the heavy weight championship of the world. And everything about their relationship, their past and their future is dealt with by communicating through violence."

A 16-man tournament with a $5 million purse, "for the heavy weight championship of the world"? Sounds like quite a fantasy. But who knows — maybe Warrior will be the first MMA flick that gets it right.

Cagepotato Comments

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yuntian- November 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm
speculation that Coach Outlet France could soon senior credit strategist at Bank investors are increasingly concerned
Tom- April 26, 2009 at 5:28 pm
This movie is being filmed at my gym. The fight scenes are kickass from what we've been told.
Chinstroker- March 11, 2009 at 6:43 am
True, there's no way Nolte will manage to pull off a convincing sober act, he's permanetly sauced. He sure looks the part of an alcoholic father though.
671- March 9, 2009 at 12:48 pm
"Nolte plays an ex-Vietnam vet boxer-turned-steel mill worker whose family was torn apart by his alcoholism"

Nick Nolte...hahaha...good one...he's a fucking drunk so he already fits the part! I guess they really wanted to go low-budget on this one.
Ample- March 9, 2009 at 9:46 am
Didnt read one word of it, but it sounds like a horrible idea.

When will they learn that MMA only looks respectable in a "movie" sense when done documentary style.

Effing hollywood, i know your trying to reienvent you selfs with new ideas that include the ever rising popularity of MMA but dude...its not gonna work on a big screen with actors and fake stories.....STOP IT already. You will not recieve any money from the MMA industry alright you effing bloodsuckers.
Jay Smith- March 9, 2009 at 9:42 am
MMA doesn't need a "movie", it needs a documentary. None of this fake shit. I will beat the shit out of Nick Nolte, and both actors playing the brothers!
Armbreaker- March 9, 2009 at 8:47 am
I will see this movie. I have been a Nolte fan since Rich Man, Poor Man. Although the plot seems a bit out there considering how the MMA world currently operates, I seem to remember a time that fighters competed in tournament and the winner would have to be considered the champion of Mixed Martial Arts. Do you remember Royce Gracie and the first Ultimate Fighting Championship tournaments?
Stylin- March 9, 2009 at 7:31 am
I have no interest in seeing this movie for the same reason I've had no interst in seeing any other mma-esque movie, or wrestling anymore. It's just NOT REAL. The only way I'd see a movie about mma is if it were a documentary abuot a real life fighter, or possibly one of those "based on a true story" movies about a real fighter like Randy Couture or Royce Gracie for example. Ken Shamrock not too much though.
Ian- March 9, 2009 at 7:29 am
Comparatively, it doesn't sound stupid. The tripe that has been fed to the public by the Hollywood machine is doing nothing but perpetuating the myths of MMA. I could go on and on about those stereotypes ad nauseum but we're all familiar with them and I'd be preaching to the choir.

"Warrior" may not be completely original in all of it's plot choices, however it does seem to make those decisions with compassion in mind, rather then ridiculous hooks, as Ben mentioned, of one-armed grappling. MMA is interesting enough without adding unnecessary bullshit. Also, coming from the man who produced the incredible "The Smashing Machine," I have faith.

Unfortunately anything can happen between story conception and final product. Just because it looks one way on paper doesn't mean thats what we'll see on screen. We could end up watching another homo-erotic video game circle jerk where the 16-man tournament includes a swimming pool fight and bear-baiting.
dabix- March 9, 2009 at 7:22 am
Let's take Nick Nolte who is a "Peaceful Warrior", "Simpatico" and "Clean". He thinks "Everybody wins" and this guy is supposed to be the main star of a movie about MMA ? Ok, he went "Under fire", got a few contacts with "Lorenzo's oil" (???), did "Affliction" and admitted "I'll do anything" so he's pretty legit. WTF is this post ?
I'll admit, "I love trouble".
Dakyn- March 9, 2009 at 7:22 am
plot sounds cliched and pretty awful. Perfect for Hollywood
Anonymous- March 9, 2009 at 7:18 am
Jeffro- March 9, 2009 at 7:17 am
Is the dude with the purple shirt and dredlocks in the movie? If so, count me in.
Dave W- March 9, 2009 at 7:09 am
Jesus Christ, that sounds stupid.
Anonymus- March 9, 2009 at 6:53 am
Here comes Hollywood, and the end of MMA. FIRST!