2011 film starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy as a pair of estranged brothers who enter a Mixed Martial Arts tournament, each for their own reasons. Also stars Nick Nolte as their father, a retired, recovering alcoholic boxer.The film opens when the younger brother Tommy (Hardy) returns to Pittsburgh after leaving with his mother years ago to escape his father's out-of-control alcoholism. He begins working out at a local gym and asks his father (celebrating 1000 days on the wagon) to train him for the Sparta tournament, a 16-contestant, single-elimination MMA tournament with a winner-take-all $5 million purse. Tommy's got a few demons in his past though, and it turns out he's not just in it for the money.When Tommy left, his elder brother Brendan stayed in Pittsburgh for the sake of his future wife. He is a former UFC fighter, but has retired and now teaches high school physics. He's having trouble making ends meet however, and his house is on the brink of foreclosure, so he starts fighting again to supplement his income. Turns out the school board doesn't approve of him moonlighting as a cage fighter, so he ends up suspended without pay from his teaching position. He knows it's a longshot, but if he can win the Sparta tournament, he'd be able to keep his house. This, of course, puts him on a collision course with Tommy, who still resents him for staying in Pittsburgh while Tommy took care of their ailing mother.The movie was well received at the box office, with excellent characterization and solid performances turned in by the lead actors, as well as very realistic fight scenes.Unrelated to the comic book.
Anti-Villain: Both Brendan and Tommy are treated sympathetically throughout the film, but Tommy fulfills the role of the villain, with Brendan being closer to a role of hero. He's a complete jerk to both his brother and father throughout the film, refusing to help them reconcile their old family demons (although not without reason). He also fights like a classic screen villain, curb-stomping his foes with anger and brutality.
Apologetic Attacker: Brendan, when he realizes Tommy won't concede the fight even with a dislocated shoulder, apologizes as he puts him in the match-ending chokehold.
As Himself: A few MMA personalities who appear in the film play themselves:
Stephan Bonnar and Rashad Evans both appear as themselves on ESPN
The Tapout founders Skyscrape and Punkass make several appearances
Referee Josh Rosenthal oversees the final bout, making several terrible calls. Non-MMA fans might be confused as to whom Frank Campana is talking to when he repeatedly chastises "Josh." It should be noted that in the credits, the character "Referee Josh Rosenthal" is credited as "Josh Rosenthal" instead of "Himself" like all the other real life personalities, presumably because the character is a comically inept referee, while Rosenthal himself was considered to be one of the best refs in the business.
Berserker Tears: One round after getting his shoulder dislocated by Brendan, Tommy gets these. Whether it's from the pain, or from all the circumstances he's faced with is up to interpretation.
Beware the Quiet Ones: Koba never spoke in the entire film but is a very lethal fighter. While Tommy spoke, he avoids any sort of interviews during the tournament but curb-stomped his opponents, nonetheless.
Bittersweet Ending: Brendan gets the 5 million dollars he needs and wins the competition but Tommy gets very little closure and is about to face some serious charges. Their father's off the wagon (Tommy's fault), although it might just be a lapse, and seems to realize that keeping his distance is the best thing to do, rehabilitation or no, so he gets to keep being lonely. Tommy does seem to have forgiven Brendan and accepts him as a brother.
Blood Knight: Tommy has some combination of this, Death Seeker and Survivors Guilt motivating his fights. At one point the comentators point out that if he were to fight someone outside the ring with the same level of excessive brutality (he had to be pulled off his opponents several times) he would face assault charges.
Blood Sport: Although the sport itself is treated pretty realistically, the idea that MMA is a brutal bloodsport where competitors could die at any moment is played up for dramatic effect, particularly with Brendan's wife.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Frank Campana is known for his unusual training methods involving classical music, but damn if he gets results.
Butt Monkey: Mad Dog Grimes only has two major scenes and he gets his rear absolutely handed to him by Tommy in both (Though he does bring it on himself on both occasions).
Byronic Hero: Tommy is a quiet, distant loner, who has very painful experiences in his family life and in the Marines. When fighting, he is very ruthless, curb-stomping his opponents in one hits. In addition, he is shown to have a certain disregard for rules, such as not attending press-conferences and leaving the ring immediately after matches. He also has quite the charisma, as he actually gains a huge number of fans because of this.
Two brothers with slim MMA credentials both independently decide to enter the fight game at the same time. They both qualify for and enter the exact same tournament, and both defeat some of the purportedly greatest fighters in the world to compete against each other in the finals.
The soldier that Tommy saved just happens to spot him on a Youtube video.
Cool Teacher: Even before Brendan's students find out about his MMA skills, it is clear that he's very popular with them. Unsurprisingly, they like him even more when they find out he's a Badass MMA fighter.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Tommy overwhelms all of his early opponents with superior speed and power, quickly defeating them in brutal fashion. His fighting style highlights his role as the Anti-Villain of the film.
Delinquent Hair: Mad Dog sports a colorful mohawk to let us know that he's a Jerk Ass. He even colors it camouflage for his fight with Tommy as a Take That to all the servicemen in the audience.
Descended Creator: Director Gavin O'Connor plays the man who financed the tournament.
Determinator: This is Brendan's primary fighting style, highlighting him as the hero of the film. He's a heavy underdog all the way through, but always manages to persevere and find a way to win via sustained grappling. In the end, Tommy also shows himself to be one, but in a more tragic way. He keeps fighting even after his defeat is certain, refusing to just let go because he's determined to support his best friend's widow and he breaks down when he realizes that he can't win with one arm. This sets Tommy apart from Koba, who taps out when in the same position.
Defeat Means Friendship: A classic example. Tommy can't set aside his resentment towards Brendan until Brendan reluctantly gives him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Brendan only does it because Tommy's fighting despite a dislocated arm and needs to be subdued quickly or else risk more intense injury fighting. While choking him out, Brendan asks for forgiveness in anguish and tells Tommy he loves him (keeping in mind Tommy had just gleefully tried to punch the life out of Brendan), at which point Tommy finally taps out and they embrace as brothers.
Domestic Abuse: When his father mentions swearing off women, Tommy mumbles that it must be hard to find a woman who can take a good punch these days.
The Dutiful Son: What Tommy sees Brendan as, especially since Brendan stayed behind for the sake of his wife and to care for Paddy.
Dysfunctional Family: The Conlons have shades of this. However Brendan's family is amazingly functional.
Dysfunction Junction: Paddy is a lonely recovering alcoholic, Tommy has PTSD (and a lot of chips on his shoulders) and Brendan has inferiority and abandonment issues.
Fight Clubbing: Brendan intends to scrape together a living by fighting in "smokers," which are small-time, often unsanctioned fighting events.
Genius Bruiser: Brendan's physics students see him this way when they find out about his MMA moonlighting. This one's based on the real-life history of UFC middleweight Rich Franklin, a math teacher before his fighting days.
Happily Married: Brendan and Tess, even if they don't always see eye to eye.
Headbutt of Love: Brendan eventually gives one to Tommy after he beats him in the tournament.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Even though the movie is about two brothers, the true bromance is between Brendan and his trainer Frank.
Instant Web Hit: A video of Tommy beating Mad Dog at the gym gets uploaded on Youtube by the gym receptionist. It becomes so popular the soldiers overseas are checking it out.
Kick the Dog: Mad Dog kicks several dogs so that we don't sympathize with him when Tommy humiliates and crushes him in the ring. He's a cocky asshole when he knocks out his first sparring partner. He also dyes his mohawk camoflauge to mock Tommy's past as a Marine.
Leitmotif: Brendan's trainer Frank Campana uses Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as his intro music, which is at odds with the rap and Russian music intros of the other fighters.
Lightning Bruiser: Tommy knocks out all his opponents early in the first round - until he fights Brendan. Koba also qualifies.
Megaton Punch: Something of a speciality of Tommy's. His first fight in the tournament ends really quickly courtesy of one, and his whole fighting style revolves around demolishing his opponent's defence with a barrage of knock-out punches.
Memetic Badass: Tommy becomes one in-universe after his video hits the web. He does eventually prove to be worth his fame.
Morally Bankrupt Banker: The banker shows absolutely no sympathy for Brendan's situation. At one point he rolls his eyes and mutters about how hard it is to keep all of his clients' sob stories straight.
Koba is obviously Fedor Emelianenko with the serial numbers filed off. They are both bald, stoic, tattoo-free, dominant Russian champs who never fought on American soil. Some reviewers mistook the reference for a take on Rocky IV's Ivan Drago.
Brendan's trainer Frank Campana resembles Greg Jackson, both presented as personable top-level trainers with an intellectual approach. In physical appearance he's more similar to Mark DellaGrotte, who takes a similarly calm and intellectual approach.
Bryan Callen as a ringside color commentator is an obvious Joe Rogan impersonation. Both are brash comedians with a casual commentating style.
The sponsor of the Sparta tournament is a bald businessman who is always hanging around the press and got rich before getting into the fight game. He's a combination of the billionaire Feritta brothers who bought the UFC and the bald UFC president Dana White, an infamous media hound.
Brendan's story is inspired by Rich Franklin, who is also a former math teacher who made it big in MMA.
Off The Wagon: Paddy Conlon after Tommy berates him one time too many.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In the scene where Paddy visits Brendan for the first time, Joel Edgerton's Aussie accent slips out when he says "I've got a wife and kids; I don't have time for whatever this is." (It's adorable.)
Pet the Dog: After pushing his father back into the bottle, Tommy tucks him into bed upon discovering him drunk and despondent.
Pride: Brendan's main flaw is his absolute refusal to file for bankruptcy or move to a smaller house, even though his wife would rather take that option than watch him risk his life in the ring.
Product Placement: This film is brought to you by Tapout! The brand is plastered everywhere. The fictional tournament is sponsored by the company, its two surviving founders appear as themselves in several scenes, and the film is dedicated to the memory of late Tapout founder Charles "Mask" Lewis.