Warrior Strong

Warrior Strong
Warrior Strong
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Andrew Dice Clay is a foul-mouthed, offensive biker who has been making waves in the stand-up comedy industry since the late 1980s all around America by borrowing and fusing together characteristics from such icons as Sylvester Stallone and Elvis Presley. He rode that into other parts of Hollywood, acting in numerous productions on both big and small screens spanning different genres. The former comedian known as The Diceman only recently left an action thriller entitled God Is a Bullet to play a disgruntled high school basketball coach in Warrior Strong.

In this feel-good sports flick, Jordan Johnson-Hinds (The Retirement Plan, Suits) plays Bilal Irving opposite Clay with direction from Shane Belcourt and production by Darius Films. Once considered to be the local boy who eventually earned a lucky break with a Chinese pro basketball scholarship but now fallen from grace because of his criminal conduct among others. When Avery Schmidt (Clay’s character) suffers what can be termed as mild heart attack during game time, Carter (Irving’s agent) gets wind of it and jumps at the chance. He ends up sending this professional athlete back to where he started his career hoping for redemption even though many from school consider him coming back good will gesture.

Also chronicling stories surrounding team players alongside a subplot that barely introduces romance between one of its employees and Schmidt, director Charles Wahl portrays the battle between Schmidt’s old-school tactics and Irving’s modern game approach.

Despite every effort made by Johnson-Hinds to squeeze out some emotion from each scene he appears in (and does quite well), Warrior Strong is extremely dull and unimaginative when compared to sports titles like Hoosiers or Bad News Bears which are typically about underdogs particularly recent ones like Hustle that bear some resemblance. If you have ever seen any movie where someone who is self-absorbed finds himself at crossroads having to make a choice between continuing down his own selfish path or someone else’s ultimate success, you can predict this film. There is nothing in the movie that makes it different from many other movies with similar themes because no big plot twist occurs.

While trying to bring the great underdog story of films such as The Mighty Ducks back to life by incorporating it into modern day, Warrior Strong at least has some merits. Quite early, the audience sees a non-binary character on the spectrum and a Haitian adolescent immigrant who is now part of the team. However, just like Macaulee Cassaday and Randy Jernier who played these roles respectively and did fairly well at it, there is an issue with how inclusiveness is handled by this film.

Rather than taking on these characters organically, the mentioned and made obvious quality has been used to push the team forward. Cassaday’s character is constantly told that she is one of them and all of a sudden, she starts performing better in college. Narration between Jeremiah’s character and Jernier links his Caribbean background, heightness with wingspan that is an advantage in basketball. It is clear how these sequences advance the plot but they diminish their identities and certainly make the underdogs ordinary.

One single element which does work (with some trepidation) in Warrior Strong comes from its two leads, Andrew Dice Clay and Jordan Johnson-Hinds. Some people may be upset that the latter does not have a chance to do his famous stuff, but Schmidt’s over-the-top passionate character here clearly refers back to Clay’s most memorable performance. In contrast to other actors who achieved fame in their younger days, Johnson-Hinds still keeps up his youthful charm against his older partner. These actors are interesting together, as they bond about how bad things were back then or even when discussing if things were run right or if players keep focused on the game.

On another note though one of Warrior Strong’s biggest problems keeping it from being a true story lies right in its title. With so many different angles this movie takes but it forgets that it was all about those players on team mostly at least for once. Anything else can come second place with respect to importance. Yet all these spirited ball playing warriors simultaneously feel their hearts broken when Irving suddenly gets pulled away from them.

Beyond what came before it as weak storytelling Warrior Strong’s climax deserves majority of criticism. During the big championship match there should only be one disinterested player left (since he was actually supposed to go through a redemption arc) feeling detached from everything – only to realize years later where his spirit really resides on earth; instead these teens seem worried aimlessly acting like they don’t know how to play or what to do. In terms of the age and this point in the plot, this makes it appear as though the characters have not grown up any more than they were at the beginning or even deserve a win? Alas, casting could have been handled better; some high schoolers look as old as Irving.

The high school students and their families should have been given more time. Warrior Strong ought to have shown why they love sports, why they picked basketball to play, and built momentum for the last game. Instead of that, this movie bases on showing us score boards and rankings which tell us about how good this team is without revealing anything concerning its players who are supposed to be underdogs. It’s a disappointing finish representative of the entire film

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