Writer/director Gavin O'Connor's film Warrior, concerning two brothers who compete against each other in a mixed martial arts tournament, wants to be more than just a fight film, and critics have found echoes of the Bible, Shakespeare, and Greek tragedy in it. Aside from the classical antecedents, O'Connor also wants to examine contemporary American life, with one brother an Iraq war veteran and the other facing the housing and health care crises. Composer Mark Isham expresses the film's aspirations in music that appropriately combines classical and contemporary elements, and that plumbs deep emotions. His approach is apparent right from the start in this soundtrack album's first cue, "Listen to the Beethoven," an adaptation of the Ode to Joy from the Ninth Symphony. This is no dance updating in the manner of Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven"; rather, Isham places the Beethoven as if it were a sample, surrounding the familiar theme with percussion parts and his own counter-melodies. The music is performed by the Sodden Dog Electronic Arts Ensemble with Filmharmonic Orchestra Prague, and the orchestra provides the soaring and haunting themes that give the story a larger perspective, while the ensemble, especially in the drumming and some guitar parts, brings out the necessary action accentuation in a film that, whatever its aspirations, still has a lot of fighting in it.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann