Among MMA fans, there has been growing interest in the upcoming film Warrior. And for good reason. This is the first truly big release film dealing with MMA, and it will be intriguing to see just how the general public responds to the depiction of our sport in the film. To go along with the release, Warrior is getting the full Hollywood marketing push, including a coffee table book.
The Men of Warrior is a book of photographs of the film's stars, all taken to highlight their roles as MMA fighters. It includes color and black and white pictures of stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, plus some of the other MMA fighters in the film - most notably former UFC fighter Nate Marquardt. The photography is by Tim Palen.
First things first - I have not yet seen the film (though you can read Matthew Roth's review here). But for this book, that doesn't really matter, as the photos do not attempt to tell a story, but instead simply present the actors/fighters. So how is the book?
As photography, it's great. There are a number of really beautiful shots here that do an excellent job using light and shadow to accentuate certain parts of the subjects. Palen grabs the little details - a drop of blood, a slightly twisted smile, a weariness in the hunched shoulders - and uses them to tell you so much about these men, creating entire characters and stories out of each frame. The pictures of Hardy are particularly strong, as he completely embodies the character so that even having not seen the film and only looking at still pictures, you understand who he is.
As an MMA fan, should you add it to your library? Well, that's a bit tricky. Again, the photography is great, but it may not hold as strong an appeal to the hardcore MMA fan. Like the movie, this book is designed for an audience with less exposure to MMA - an audience for whom a close up of Nate Marquardt's cauliflowered ear will provide a fascinating look into a world they know little about. Knowing this world well, I found myself greatly admiring the photography, but wishing that Palen's subjects were real fighters, taken after real fights - not sporting make-up in an effort to recreate the damage of a fight.
Overall, it's a unique glimpse into the casual view of MMA, and if you are a big fan of photography, or the film itself, be sure to check it out.