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Book Review: A Closer Look At “The Men of Warrior”

“The Men of Warrior,” released earlier this month, is a companion to the film “Warrior,” set to hit theaters Sept. 9, 2011. The film features two estranged brothers who, through a series of events, are thrust back together at SPARTA, the biggest winner-takes-all Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event, to confront their past and face off in battle.

The book, “The Men of Warrior,” features fine art portraits by photographer Tim Palen of actors and fighters featured in the film, specifically Tom Hardy, who wrote the book’s sarcastic and humorous forward, Joel Edgerton, Erik Apple, Nate Marquardt and Ron “RJ” Messenger.

The pictures capture emotion and energy, from Hardy with fists raised, ready to spar to Edgerton staring at his loosely taped hands with concern lining his brow to blood running down Marquart’s ripped abs, onto his hands and TapouT shorts.

Palen, who is also chief marketing officer for Lionsgate — a producer for the film — is know for creativity in business and promotion, which is obvious with this coffee table book. While it’s a unique marketing tool, the photographs are beautiful, highlighting the picture within the picture, such as Marquardt’s cauliflower ear and Apple’s fake set of fangs. He uses color mixed in with black and white to emphasize his focus, like highlighting Edgerton’s bloodied hands.

However, aside from the beauty of Palen’s photography, I am confused. Who is this book for?

Calling this pictorial “The Men of Warrior” reminded me of Playboy’s occasional amateur features, such as The Women of Wal-Mart. Actually, the entire book reminded me of a Playgirl issue except the men are bloodied, bruised and there’s (thankfully) no full-frontal. Luckily (for me) the book is sectioned by actors and starts with the delicious Tom Hardy and ends with the sideshow-esque Ron “RJ” Messenger.

From the looks of the film, it isn’t directed towards the female population. It seems Rocky-esque, an inspirational drama about two estranged brothers facing the fight of their lives complete with blood, sweat and tears. So, I wonder, is “The Men of Warrior” geared towards getting women interested in the film, showing us some dark, dangerous and delicious photos of these fighters so we decide to head to the theatre come Sept. 9?

The photos are enough to make most heterosexual men nervous and most women bored after one read-through since, by nature, women are not visual creatures. To be sure, my husband casts a dirty look at the large book every time he passes by, especially with the cover featuring the chest of a tattooed, muscular and shirtless Hardy. He refers to it as the book with “jacked up, half naked dudes.” Maybe he’s jealous, maybe he’s uncomfortable — perhaps a bit of both — but that’s beside the point. Is he going to see the movie? Signs point to yes considering he’s a huge Rocky fan. Does he want to look at the book? Negative.

If the book is to be valued for its poster-worthy photos, then why not market posters to adorn the walls of John Q. Public or weight rooms across America? If it’s the MMA culture you’re after, then why not a book featuring the actors sharing their workout regimes for the film? If it’s women you’re after, well, honey, Tom Hardy had me at “Inception.”

Bottom line, check out “The Men of Warrior” if you enjoy energized and beautiful photos, the work of Palen or “jacked up, half naked dudes.” Check out “Warrior” this September for a critically acclaimed film about redemption, reconciliation, family and MMA!