First Hit: Even with its ring violence, this is a great film.

UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotional organization.

I’ve watched a few of the television bouts and for the most part they are very difficult to watch. People get hurt. People are in the ring to hurt the other person. Although it isn’t particularly my cup of tea, it doesn’t mean it cannot be used as a background for a good film.

Paddy Condon (played by Nick Nolte) is a retired old drunk with a penchant for listening to Moby Dick on cassette recorder. He’s got 1,000 days of sobriety when his youngest son Tommy (played by Tom Hardy) shows up at his doorstep. The relationship is filled with sadness and hate. Tommy is silent, brooding, and is a soft spoken volcano.

His oldest son Brendan (played by Joel Edgerton) is married but he and his wife Tess (played by Jennifer Morrison) are barely making a living. Brendan is a physics high school teacher and also fights in parking lot MMA fights. He needs the extra money or he will lose his home because of the medical expenses incurred by his daughter.

The brothers haven’t spoken for almost 15 years and there is animosity between both brothers and their father. Their life as kids in the same house with Paddy, their mom was hell.

To make some money and gain some pride, they both enter a single elimination UFC bout of the top 16 MMA fighters. Both brothers are in it to win.

What made this film work is that the characters were well defined, they had difficult and compelling stories, and the acting was superb.

Nolte is perfect as the sober father who really hopes to be forgiven for his past indiscretions. Hardy is amazing as the brooding, pent up volcano, younger son. Edgerton is very dynamic and wonderful as the somewhat wiser older brother who will do anything to keep his family in their home. Morrison is both sexy and beautiful while being supportive and loving as Brendan’s wife.  Gavin O’Connor and Anthony Tambakis wrote a wonderful and strong screenplay. O’Connor did a fantastic job directing this story and using MMA fighting as a backdrop.

Overall: This is a very good film with strong performances.