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Review of The Warrior's Way Movie

By Edited Jun 25, 2015 0 0

The Warrior's Way Movie Trailer Official (HD)

The Warrior's Way Movie, a visually-stunning modern martial arts western starring Korean actor Jang Dong-gun who plays an Asian warrior assassin forced to hide in a small town in the American Badlands.

In this Action/Fantasy Westerner, a young assassin fails to carry out the ultimate mission assigned to him by his clan elders, and that is to kill every last one of their enemy clan, including the infant princess.


With the infant enemy-turned adoptee under his care, the assassin makes his escape across the seas to a derelict western town where he finds unlikely companions, nasty western bullies, and of course, that his past is not that easy to escape.

This first venture from writer/director Sngmoo Lee is now one of the many highly stylized comic books film features to be released within the past few years. Frank Miller adaptations come to mind, with their surrealistic set-designs and dreamy high-contrast lighting that evokes comic-book pages sprung to life, two trademark features that create the perfect arena for mesmerizing action and fight sequences. These trademarks in Miller’s films are typically supported by a fairly substantial plot-framework that spring from Miller’s graphic novel conceptions, conceptions that may or may not have been inspired by even older conceptions such as Greek mythology. The result of these combinations is a solid and stable film, something that The Warrior’s Way movie, unfortunately, is not. What we have here is a film with vibrant and colorful sets, thrilling, stylized fight sequences, and some physically distinctive characters. Within the visually stunning attractive sets and amid the periodical thrills are dreary, stereotypical characters struggling through a tenuous, gap-ridden plot.

Yang is our fugitive assassin-come-epic-hero who journeys to the 19th century American west to save an infant and escape the violent condemnation of his clan curiously titled, “The Sad Flutes”. After a brief voice-over introduction, we meet this hero at the climax of his final assignment to wipe out the enemy clan, which is to give his own clan the eminent champions and himself “The Greatest Swordsman in the World, Ever.” With victory inches away, Yang undercuts 500 years of honorable struggle and determination by opting out of the last stroke to keep the life of their last remaining enemy, an infant girl. With his membership of the clan in shambles and his life in danger, Yang seals his sword in its sheath and heads, with the baby, to America.

While any movie-goer, passive or critical, can appreciate smooth and economical transitions from point A to B, this opening of supposed epic proportions completes within a few minutes, leaving you provoked and unsatisfied. But, anyway. Films any longer than two hours are sometimes looked at with dread. Yang easily and inexplicably arrives in a run-down western town complete with a saloon, a hotel, and a carnival. At this point in the film, it becomes very clear that the plot is unfolding more like a classic oral fable, which typically lacks detail, than a modern-day tale. There will be more about this in a moment.

Yang meets a cluster of quirky characters amid the run-down buildings of the town. There is Ron, the bereft drunkard played by Geoffrey Rush (Shine), Eight Ball the dwarf mayor and ringmaster played by Tony Cox (Friday), and of course, Lynne, the pretty, feisty female with an interest in sharp weapons and dreams of vindication played by Kate Bosworth (Blue Crush). Later in the film, Yang meets The Colonel, the over-the-top repulsive villain, portrayed by Danny Huston. All of these characters have their distinctive qualities that are undeniably attractive, but like the pretty visual effects and thrilling fight sequences, the distinctive superficial qualities of the characters don’t hold up under their poorly developed personalities, solidifying all of them as trite, weak stereotypes and losing the interest of any active viewer.

The Warrior's Way Full Movie Review

The film is not supposed to be realistic and, as said above, plays out more like a fable.

This was Lee’s intention as writer/director, and in some ways, he hits the mark. But instead of using familiar, archetypal formulas as a basis for development and expansion, something required for any sort of freshness, he seems to leave the formulas as they are: incredibly simple, minimal, and trite. It is as if the sparse simplicity of an oral folktale onscreen, with million-dollar special effects, of course.

After the thin exposition and Yang’s establishment in the town as laundry man and token ninja warrior, we, as well as Yang, learn of what sent the town into decrepitude. Years earlier, it had been the target of several violent pillages, helmed by the monstrous Colonel. He killed residents, stole goods, and focused his perverted attentions on a young Lynne. So, the town is broken and vulnerable to another attack. Good thing a warrior has arrived.

Sure enough, another conflict just happens to arise several years after the first and, conveniently, weeks(?) after Yang’s arrival (a plot hole that was very difficult to climb out of). The plot elements of this film are strikingly familiar. Movie like The Warrior’s Way echoes the epic of the lone hero outsider who leads oppressed people to victory. This premise has endured for a reason and can be traced back to the unrivaled Seven Samurai and beyond. While watching this film, it becomes clear that the familiar plot elements are being wasted and misused. It is hard not to draw connections between it and much more superior films that offer good pacing, three dimensional characters, enough plot detail, and general depth. In the end, it could be concluded that The Warrior’s Way movie is all formula and little original substance.

That being said, the film does offer its fair share of appeal, which may keep a person from only missing part of his/her money. As said before, the film looks beautiful, and within all the eye-candy are a couple of memorable and almost artful scenes. There is the sword-play-as-an-elegant-dance scene, and the pivotal final confrontation between Yang and his clan master. All performances are so-so. Jang is enough as the seasoned, empty-eyed assassin. Bosworth is shaky as his comic relief spewing love interest. Geoffrey Rush will always be an incredible actor, but his talent is wasted here, at least for much of the film, as his character is a tired and predictable one.

Overall, where the film lacks in plot and character, it almost compensates for in stylization and visual effects. If you’re considering putting forth your time and money for this film, focus one more time on the italicized ALMOST above.



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