Tag Archives: Red Hill

The Warrior’s Way

7 Dec

Title: The Warrior’s Way
Year:
2010
Director:
Sngmoo Lee
Writer:
Sngmoo Lee
Starring:
Jang Dong-gun, Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston, Tony Cox, Ti Lung
MPAA Rating:
R, strong bloody violence
Runtime:
100 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
6.6
Rotten Tomatoes:
47%

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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Red Hill

24 Nov

Title: Red Hill
Year:
2010
Director:
Patrick Hughes
Writer:
Patrick Hughes
Starring:
Ryan Kwanten, Steve Bisley, Tom E. Lewis, Claire van der Boom
MPAA Rating:
R, strong bloody violence, and language
Runtime:
95 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
6.6
Rotten Tomatoes:
75%

Red Hill is a fantastic western set in Australia, and it’s also a thriller that unfolds over the course of a single day and that counts with impressive action pieces which are really violent in all their awesomeness, and that has a huge amount of suspense. Ryan Kwanten from True Blood ditches the Southern accent to don his real Australian here to play the main character. And he does a great job as Shane Cooper, a young police officer who relocates with his pregnant wife to the picturesque small town of Red Hill to start a family, but that ends up in the middle of a helluva lot of trouble. The result is really amazing, Red Hill is a tremendous film and the feature-length debut of writer-director Patrick Hughes, who I’ll be following very closely now.

I like it that all of Red Hill takes place in that one day, it meant the pacing of the film was going to be sublime, which it was, and as I’ve said in many other reviews, I like myself my violence served bloody in films, and the violence in here is just fun to watch because it’s bloody and because it never once feels gratuitous. The plot is fantastic, just as Shane gets to Red Hill thinking it’s just a small town in which he could peacefully raise his family in the future, and take care of his wife in the present who’s having troubles with her blood pressure, he finds out that Jimmy Conway, a very dangerous killer, has just escaped from a max-security prison.

This is obviously an homage to the western genre, it has all the stuff from all the cool westerns and it shows it proudly and loudly, and the action scenes I won’t get over because they’re beautifully made and shot. But this also works as a thriller, and a very effective one at that, and I love that about Red Hill, that it can combine those two genres so effectively because it tackles them at its core very simply. The western part of it is embodied by the clichés it represents and because it tells a very basic moral story, and the thriller is because it presents this sort of scary element to the killer that’s on the run, making his way back to town to tie up some loose ends.

There’s some social commentary here by Mr. Hughes, about some of the race issues aboriginal Australians may feel, and he’s seriously good at showing them within the context of his film. This is a really amazing debut from a filmmaker I will keep an eye on, the writing is tight, the direction is great, the editing is concise and perfectly to the point, and the cinematography exploits the beautiful landscape and the effective shadows. Just a well done film through and through, and a total surprise I’m seriously glad I got to find and watch.

Grade: B+