The Warrior’s Way

7 Dec

Title: The Warrior’s Way
Sngmoo Lee
Sngmoo Lee
Jang Dong-gun, Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston, Tony Cox, Ti Lung
MPAA Rating:
R, strong bloody violence
100 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
Rotten Tomatoes:

The last new film I had seen before checking this one out had been The King’s Speech, a near-perfect movie that had Geoffrey Rush giving a performance that could certainly earn him the second Oscar of his career this coming February. Now Mr. Rush also stars here in The Warrior’s Way, and this is a prime example of just how different a performance can be quality-wise when the plot and character is so bad as it is here.

It’s obvious that The Warrior’s Way wasn’t trying to be The King’s Speech or anything like that, but still, Mr. Rush and his co-stars try to no avail to make something out of the stuff they’re given to work with here. This is a film that I just sincerely didn’t like, it tries to give a crazy loaded mix of western and eastern cinema stereotypes but it all comes off all sorts of wrong and the end result is nothing to admire.

It’s nothing to admire because there have been many films that have tried to mix genres and styles in one movie and have done a far better job at it. This year’s The Good, the Bad, the Weird, a western from South Korea which I rated B comes to mind, as does Red Hill, an Australian flick from this year which combined the western and thriller genres extremely well and I gave a B+ to. Those films worked because they knew how to execute these combination of influences, while The Warrior’s Way never finds its way, at times trying to be a funny action film, other times looking like a straight-up Asian martial arts flick, this one’s just plain messy.

Sngmoo Lee, the director and writer of this tiresome spectacle, tried to do something neat here, I give him points for that. This is all shot much like 300 was shot, creating everything on a green-screen and getting computers to generate much of the show. But this doesn’t have the style 300 had, and the Leonidas of this story is nowhere as cool a character. His name is Yang, who is the warrior of the title, and he is ordered to kill the last remaining survivor from the enemy clan he battled, which just happens to be a baby. However, he can’t bring himself to do that and so he flees with the baby to a western American town.

And that’s when we meet Mr. Rush’s character, who’s the town drunk and one of Yang’s new friends in the new town he came to to escape those who wanted to kill the baby and him. And this is one horrible role for Mr. Rush, his character is so cliché-laden that he provides one horrible performance with it. Same goes for Kate Bosworth, who plays Lynne, a local girl who learns some knife-throwing skill from Yang. Ms. Bosworth’s an actress I usually like, yet here she’s all sorts of wrong, her character is just awfully written and no one could have made something good out of Lynne.

The tale has fights against Americans with guns and Asians with ninja style moves with swords, and I usually like that because it ensues in some comic book style violence which is, at the very least, fun to watch. And even though the violence here is at times cool, most of the time it feels like stuff we’ve seen before way too many times and done better, slow-motion bullets, CGI-created backgrounds, this is old stuff for us, and even though it’s technically well done, this one adds not a single fresh element to the mix.

Not to mention the script is horrible. Mr. Lee wrote a screenplay full of clichés inspired by Sergio Leone’s western epics that mash seriously bad with his penchant for martial arts sequences and forcefully imposed comedic moments that never bring out any laughs. And as I said, the fact that the action sequences are well done on a technical scale is ultimately unimportant because even though they’re pretty nifty to us they don’t show anything new, and the fact that the story is so bad doesn’t get us engaged to them story-wise, so we just watch them for a few cool moments. The Warrior’s Way is ultimately a mindless spectacle that at times is fun, but for the most part is rather unbearable, especially if you like me saw it just after watching Mr. Rush do wonders in a role that actually is worthy of his talents.

Grade: C-


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