When Push Comes To Shove: WARRIOR – Review by Nick Holden


The Sexy Armpit’s featured writer Nick “N.J” Holden is back! Here’s his review of WARRIOR, a film featuring scenes filmed in Atlantic City as well as Tom Hardy a.k.a BANE in Dark Knight Rises!

You know what a crowd-pleaser is? Sure you do, when a movie makes the audience happy, such as when Daniel LaRusso rose up to kick uber-bully John Norris into the next world in The Karate Kid (the 1984 version, not the lame-ass remake) or when T.S. finally won Brandy’s heart in Mallrats (with a little assistance from good buddy Brodie). Both movies told simple stories and relied on the strength of the characters to push everything forward, and in some cases, made the film memorable despite plot holes and typical Hollywood clichés. The new film Warrior is a throwback to the crowd-pleaser, and while it won’t score points for originality, it makes up tremendously in character and brutal, but not gratuitous, martial arts action.

Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) is a former mixed martial artist turned teacher who is faced with overwhelming debt that threatens to leave him and his family homeless. Long estranged from his father (Nick Nolte), a former alcoholic boxer, he soon finds himself competing in small independent venues until he sees the brass ring; Sparta, an elimination-style tournament in Atlantic City that could help him avoid financial disaster. On the other side of the spectrum is his younger brother Tommy (Tom Hardy), a former Marine running from his past who turns to his father to help him train for Sparta. Eventually, after several violent battles, the brothers find themselves facing each other in the main event amidst much tension and family drama.

Basically, it’s Rocky meets The Fighter, only set in the world of MMA, fitting since it has exploded all over due to the popularity of Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC, Strikeforce, and other promotions all over the world. Actors Edgerton and Hardy completely immerse themselves into their roles by bulking up (especially Hardy, who looks like a smaller version of The Hulk) and undergoing extensive martial arts training for the film’s numerous fight scenes. Also appearing in smaller roles are real-life fighters Nate “The Great” Marquardt, Erik Apple, and Anthony Johnson, giving the film an authentic feel. The appearance of TNA wrestler Kurt Angle as an invincible Russian fighter (shades of MMA superstar Fedor Emelianenko) seems a tad cartoonish, but the showdown between him and Brendan is one ferocious battle to be seen on film. Nick Nolte does an admirable job as the absentee father who tries to reconnect with both sons, but finds himself at odds with his own demons.

Mostly set in Pennsylvania, the film’s conclusion takes place in New Jersey’s own den of sin, Atlantic City. One of the more memorable takes place in the dead of night on the shores of NJ, when both brothers have a powerful reunion, with each man not sure of the other’s motives or if their fractured family will survive their in-cage encounter. A strength in Warrior is the focus on the individual above all else; there are no real villains that stand in the way of the brothers’ quest for glory, only their own pasts. Brendan struggles with trying to decide if he really has what it takes to go all the way and take home the ultimate prize. Tommy is running from his past and, while begrudgingly trains under his father, tries to make up for his own misgivings as a son and soldier. 

The film does have its flaws, however. It runs a tad too long (a hair over two hours) and the conclusion does leave many unanswered questions as to where the family stands after the final fight. It also has the clichés we’ve seen before; the principal who is against Brendan, then cheers him on, Brendan’s students all rallying for him, and montages of the training regiments. But if you’re into a crowd-pleaser on a nice weekend night or a fan of MMA, then Warrior is a nice breath of air; not fresh air, but good air nonetheless.

Johnny Walker Is My Homeboy! Randy “The Ram” Is The Man!

Homeboy vs. The Wrestler 1

If you thought The Wrestler was simply the wrestling version of Rocky, after reading this post you’ll think differently. The immense amount of similarities between 1988’s Homeboy and 2008’s The Wrestler make them more suitable companion films. The Wrestler, came 20 years after Homeboy, but both star Mickey Rourke and are filmed in New Jersey. Now join me at ringside as we pit boxer Johnny Walker vs. former wrestling superstar Randy “The Ram” Robinson…

Both The Wrestler and Homeboy’s New Jersey setting and stirring cinematography transported me directly into their respective main character’s agonizing world. While The Ram was your typical beefed up bleach blonde babyface who has seen better days, Homeboy’s Johnny Walker had shorter hair, and a western flair, but they were both equally beaten down, fading athletes.

Randy the Ram was grappling with his own demons and masking his pain with drugs, but Johnny Walker put himself in danger when he merely stepped into the ring. Walker also continued to align himself with an underhanded promoter prick only out for the purse, Christopher Walken’s Wesley Pendergass. It was easy to feel bad for a weathered, wandering cowboy who was being manipulated by a sleazy low level crook. As Pendergass, Walken is so Walkeny that you’d think he’s doing an impression of himself. This is classic Walken.

During the making of the two films, Rourke had more difficulty adjusting to training to become a wrestler since he had previously been a boxer for several years before pursuing acting. His bio on Wikipedia reveals that he suffered at least two concussions during his early boxing matches. His ring experience in real life clearly lent authenticity to both roles. Rourke even used Guns n Roses “Sweet Child o’ Mine” as his entrance music in his boxing bouts, while Randy “The Ram” Robinson chose to use the same song in the last match against The Ayatollah in The Wrestler.

Homeboy vs. The Wrestler 2

In 1997 singer Paula Cole begged to know “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” Homeboy might not answer that question precisely, but after watching the film it’s obvious that all the cowboys slash boxers have gone to Asbury Park. Considering that Rourke wrote the screenplay for Homeboy (under his nom de plum “Sir Eddie Cook) and that he went back to boxing after his declining movie career, Homeboy becomes even more poignant. Although there’s many differences between boxing and professional wrestling, there’s almost no separation between Rourke, Johnny Walker, and Randy “The Ram” Robinson. Throughout his own boxing career, in addition to concussions, Rourke suffered a number of injuries such as broken bones, a compressed cheekbone, and short term memory loss. All that plus accusations that he was washed up as an actor fueled his performances in these films.

What isn’t fair to Rourke as an actor and a writer is that his performance as Johnny Walker in Homeboy is no less striking than his acclaimed role as Randy “The Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler, but Homeboy quietly resides simply as another minor notch on his filmography. Even without a fraction of the dialogue that Randy the Ram was supplied with, I still rooted for the enigmatic Johnny Walker. Through Rourke’s mannerisms and expressions he portrayed a boxer who was frequently mentally absent, but kept moving in life as well as in the ring. He was quiet and dumb, yet he yearned for the simple embrace of a woman named Ruby, played by actress Debra Feuer, Rourke’s wife at the time. 
Mickey Rourke’s personal life and career bled into both Homeboy and The Wrestler. Both films are emotional and heartbreaking and leave you stunned as if you were hit with a knockout blow. I urge you to watch Homeboy to see what could be considered the precursor to The Wrestler. I wonder if Darren Aronofsky has seen it?

*Currently Homeboy is streaming on Netflix

A Halloween Meme

Here’s a Halloween themed meme started by our friend Becca at No Smoking in the Skullcave. Visit Becca’s blog and shop when you’re through here! Feel free to join the meme and answer and post on your blog!

1. What is the worst treat to get when trick-or-treating?
For me, the worst was any hard candy or stuff that stuck in my teeth. I especially hated when I got sugar daddies that were hard as rocks.

2. What character from any horror film would you most like to play?
Sammi Curr, and even though it’s not truly a horror film, Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

3. Would you rather be a zombie, alien, or psycho? (why)
Definitely a Psycho…because there’s probably less work to put into it. Not a lot of makeup or costume shopping involved. Psychos are usually low maintenance!

4. How many Halloween, Friday the 13th, or Nightmare on Elm Street movies combined do you have on DVD?
Hmm…let me think. I own every NMOES including Freddy vs. Jason as well as F13 part 1,2,3,4, and 6.

5. What is the scariest movie you have ever seen?
I don’t get scared easily since I started watching horror films when I was about 4 or 5. My parents were cool with it. How can you tell a kid who loves Freddy Krueger that he can’t watch the movies? My friends weren’t allowed, but I was!!! I am more creeped out my psychological and atmospheric thrillers and horror films with less blood and gore and more mindf*cks. I’d say classic films like The Shining, 1984’s Nightmare on Elm Street, The Exorcist, Poltergeist and newer stuff like The Blair Witch Project and Lake Mungo.

6. Lamest costume you have worn on Halloween?
For my first Halloween my mom dressed me up as one of Santa’s helpers, but that was completely involuntary. I wish I could go back in time and tell my mom that it was totally the wrong month for that.

My First Halloween

7. Favorite Halloween treat?
A king size Snickers. To me, that was the grandaddy of all Halloween treats. And actual Reese’s cups, not the fun size ones.

8. Friendly-faced jack o’lantern or scary one?
SCARY!!! The more sinister the better!

9. Have you ever had nightmares about a scary movie character chasing you?
If I did, I don’t really remember. I was never so scared of a horror movie character to the point where I’d dream about them chasing me.

10. Best thing about Halloween?
The weather, the atmosphere, the jack-o-lanterns, horror movies, the costumes, the parties, the house displays/decorations, and the memories.

11. Strangest Halloween custom you’ve heard of?
Plenty of people I know basically ignore the Halloween season altogether. That’s not fun at all.

12. Person in your family who most likes Halloween (not counting yourself)?
Believe it or not, no one in my family really loves Halloween like I do, of course my little niece and nephews like it because of the candy, but not so much the haunting aspect of it. So, I’d definitely say my girlfriend since she loves it and she’s definitely part of The Sexy Armpit family.

13. Are you superstitious? If so, name at least one superstition of yours.
I always seem to say that I’m NOT superstitious but I think we all are a little bit superstitious. There have been countless times that black cats have ran across the street in front of my car while driving, probably more often than most people. Oh, and I DO have a rabbit’s foot and I love the Stevie Wonder song, so I guess I actually am superstitious.

Easter Candy Explosion! A Pictorial

Wal-Mart is more satanic than Hell could ever be. In fact, even in this time of economic despair, I was on a hunt for some cool little trinkets to throw in my niece and nephew’s Easter baskets. Wal-Mart is a slimeball salesman, hair greased back, with a shit eatin’ grin. Walking through the aisles of Wal-Mart is like stopping by a garage sale that you had no idea was even going on. I don’t need anything at that garage sale but for some God awful reason I walk away from it with a handful of junk I didn’t need or even knew I wanted. What was intended to be a quick trip to the store for Easter candy turned into a rapid free fall into a hellish vacuum of consumerism. 

When it comes to buying things I don’t need, I wouldn’t feel as bad to buy…oh, say…a back issue of a comic book line. If I finally come across an old back issue of Teen Titans that’s eluded me for years, I would snatch that book up in milliseconds. If the object fills a certain void or purpose then I have no problem justifying the item as a “must have.” On the other hand, what you are about to see are items that no man with hair on his chest could ever justify actually shelling out money for. After nearly $150 bucks it was completely out of hand.
One question though…
What would you do if you saw these 3 crazy/wacky flavors of Whoppers staring you down? I was immediately paralyzed with an obsession to make these mine. I knew they would taste like shit, but for some reason, all I could picture was me in an empty Wal-Mart laughing and giggling as I submerged in 650,000,000 pastel colored whopper malt balls. These suckers were pouring out at me through the roof, from the laundry detergent aisle, and from the creepy end of the store where they keep hoses and Christmas trees all year round.

Keep in mind folks that there wasn’t even an iota of a fraction of a chance that these would be any good at all. I was walking into a disaster and I knew it. A dog crap flambe would probably taste nicer than the disgustingly sweet Vanilla Whopper. Pepto Bismol may as well release an orange cream flavor since they could just rip the recipe right off of the Orange Cream Whopper carton. These Whoppers should feature a “Missing” ad on the side of the carton: “MISSING: ORIGINAL WHOPPERS THAT ACTUALLY TASTE GOOD…YOU KNOW THE ONES…THE ONES THAT BURN THE SKIN OFF THE INSIDE OF YOUR MOUTH IF YOU SUCK ON THEM BALLS FOR TOO LONG.” 
And the Blueberry, what an astonishing fucking joke they are. Imagine for a second that original Whoppers were artificially inseminated by the sperm of a pastel Easter bunny. Their offspring would be Blueberry Whoppers, and let’s just say Grandpa Whoppery isn’t too pleased with his gay grandson. He’s always off dancing at the Blue Oyster and talking about how he wants to get into a civil union with another Blue “Bear” Whopper. With a clear mind I can hereby declare that Blueberry Whoppers are THEEEE worst variety in the Whopper Malt Ball candy line. It has nothing to do with them being gay either. Hell, our former governor was a Blueberry Whopper.

This green marshmallow mess was staring me down from the shelf because it knew that I just love to torture the shit out of these stupid holiday marshmallows. This poor guy didn’t stand a chance. As far as I’m concerned I gave him a nice makeover. I tore his big, dumb ears off with my ferocious, Sabretooth-esque teeth. Off with his silly bow tie! In a matter of seconds, Baby Binks was middle aged, balding, bow tie-less, and stressed out.

Russell Stover is taking the whole Marshmallow Rabbit to another level. Next thing you know they’ll be coating actual rabbits with milk chocolate. In a way, I’m glad because at least this chocolate mess actually looks like a rabbit unlike some of it’s predecessors. Of course, that would be in a Donnie Darko, demonic, talisman looking rabbit sorta way.


I decided to turn him upside down just for fun. For the life of me, I couldn’t put my finger on who he reminded me of. Until…DING…DING!!! It came at me like a fatal blow from a ‘roided up Russian…

Happy Easter everyone! Heed my warning: It wasn’t the fruit that was forbidden, it was all the unnecessary crap that fills the shelves at your local Wal-Mart.

Too Hard on The Two Coreys

I sacrificed watching Entourage last night to check out A&E’s The Two Coreys. In sum, Haim is really dysfunctional and Feldman is totally whipped by his raspy voiced, domineering, vegetarian girlfriend. Watching them at a total opposite point in life than they were in the ‘80s actually makes me hope for the best for them. Haim talked to the audience about their “comeback” and sadly their second coming probably isn’t happening anytime soon. Hold on a second though, none of us thought Rocky could come back and stand a chance against Mason The Line Dixon now did we? Stranger things have happened in Hollywood especially from one half of the Frog Brothers and the guy with frosted hair who had a risqué Rob Lowe poster on his wall.

As I watched Transformers in the new AMC theaters in Linden, NJ I couldn’t help but feel like it reminded me of an ’80s movie. Not for any glaring reason but for a subtle vibe running through the film, after all it’s based off of an ’80s toy line. It definitely wasn’t blatant but consider the mainstream schlock that Michael Bay is typically responsible for. When making such generic blockbusters it’s not hard to make a movie that gives the impression that it could have been made in a different decade. The main reason why I got that ’80s vibe was surprisingly Shia LaBeouf’s kick-ass performance. You could pick up on his versatility and his comedic timing was dead on. Here’s where you’re all going to abruptly jerk your steering wheel to the right to dodge the oncoming unexpected comparison to yes…Corey Haim and Corey Feldman: the two guys that the entire world may tie back to. I’m in no way saying that we can compare a rising star like Shia LaBeouf, the guy who’s already starring in Indiana Jones 4, to “washed up” guys like the Two Coreys. What I am saying is that people should think twice before completely lambasting them.

So what, they got caught up with drugs and bad reality shows. They are human, and they just so happen to have been the same guys who probably would have been cast in Transformers if it was made into a live action movie in 1987. It might pain you to think about it, but it’s true. Nothing that LaBeouf did was new. We could have easily taken either of the Coreys circa 1987 and inserted them in that role and they would have been equally as comedic and considering inflation, equally as successful at the box office.

Perhaps they’ve had a run of bad luck, but America is never satisfied with the abundant amount of nostalgia that gets spat back out at them. Once you think you had it to the gills with the Surreal Life, Flavor of Love, and Scott Baio programming it’s time for more! Knock the Coreys all you want but clearly there is a demand for them. You might try to consider the impression that movies like License to Drive and The Lost Boys left on you. Let’s not forget movies like The Goonies, The Burbs, and Dream a little Dream. The Coreys were on magazines and wallpapered every girls bedroom at the time. And to the guys: don’t act like you didn’t think Corey Feldman was friggin hysterical in every movie he did. He was definitely a guy who we could all relate to. Think of him in Friday the 13th part 4. How many of us were exactly like that when we were young? How about Haim in License to Drive? It’s his best role and evokes very similar feelings we all had when we hit 17 and were about to hit the road with our new licenses. All I’m saying is back off already! The Two Coreys contribution to the world has been solidified a long time ago. If producers, advertisers, and public demand deem it necessary to supply us with another dose of the Coreys, then so be it!