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The Warrior’s Way

March 2, 2011

I loved the flick. The accents are odd, the fights short and acting bad. I didn’t care. I loved seeing a badass ninja fighting other badass ninjas while fighting badass cowboys. Include Geoffrey Rush as a drunk, people in clown costumes and a cute baby and you have yourself a movie.

My buddy John complains about the fight Choreography. I looked at it from the perspective of the movie Equilibrium. Christian Bale steamrolled through people in that movie because he is the best. The warrior in this film is the same thing. He has no competition. I liked the overly green screened look and found myself having a fun time. I left the theater pleasantly surprised. So many movie nowadays are predictable. This one is not.

The Warrior’s Way (2010)

 By: John Leavengood   

        Be careful with this one.  If you like movies that are good because they are bad (more eccentric, really), then this is a decent movie.  If you enjoy laughing at silly premises, ridiculous situations, and occasional gratuitous clown outfits, then you’ll likely enjoy this as well.  But if you enjoy good combat choreography, you’ll be disappointed.

                Yang (played by The Promise’s Jang Dong-gun) is the greatest swordsman to ever live.  Not a bad rep to sport these days.  He has slain all of his foes except for a single child, an infant, which he takes into his own care.  His regional manager, the leader of the ninja-assassin group known as the Sad Flutes, is less than thrilled with this failure.   Yang, for some reason, ends up in Old West America and in no way succumbs to stereotypes immediately as he takes over the town laundry business.

                Yang steps on some toes during his stay.  As a result he combats a half-faced Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, William Stryker) and his cruel, murderous gang.  Yang must also deal with his past when it catches up to him.  The Sad Flutes desire the child’s demise…and Yang’s for his betrayal.  That does not go well for the Flutes.  Ummm, best swordsman ever—did you Flutes forget that before you got yourselves Slapchopped®!?!

                This may sound partially serious but I assure it’s really quite silly.  What’s silly about this movie?  Oh, but where to begin?  Perhaps a couple of highlights…

1)  Kate Bosworth clearly owed somebody a favor and in lieu of a blowie she agreed to do this.  She adopts an accent that actually inspires me to harm small animals.  Perhaps their shrieks would deafen out her awful voice.  She also had a wardrobe that one-gulp swallowed her already young-boyish body.  I require that she be in her Blue Crush bikini at all times to remind me that she is, in fact, a “she”.  If you’re mad at me for knocking Bosworth ‘cause you think she’s hot then fret not.  She wears a seductive bustiered dress in one scene and…well—I digress.  But it was HOT!!!

 2)  Geoffrey Rush.  What happened to you?  You used to do all these serious movies.  Then you did the Pirates movies.  Comical, but good.  Then this.  His character, a lush who looks so bad you begin to imagine what he smells like, seems quite pointless.  I wonder if Rush is actually an alcoholic and wandered onto the set while they were shooting this movie.  The director must have figured “screw it, keep rolling”.  He serves no purpose until the end of the movie.  But it doesn’t really justify the character.  I enjoyed watching him stumble around.  Makes me think of my undergrad years.  And how weird is it that we most recently saw him blowing away audiences with his performance in The King’s Speech?  Geoffrey Rush is like an ogre…and ogres are like onions…you know, layers.

3)  Clowns.  Why are there clowns?  Why dress up as a clown as a form of preparation for a large-scale life-threatening showdown between cowboys and ninjas?  So many questions; so few answers.

So the movie is clearly fun.  In place of cool choreography they employ cool effects, some nice 300-esque slow-mo, and some busy gunfire and raining-assassin scenes—all of which are largely skewed towards the end of the movie.  Between the opening and closing scenes, which were cool, we have a lot of light-hearted comedy and one meant-to-be-heavy, violent flashback explaining Bosworth’s character.  This was enjoyable.  I’d say this movie was a lot of fun but, again, I was expecting an impressive array of fight choreography.  Don’t let my unmet expectations phase you.  I figure that if I had no expectations, I really would have liked this unique movie a lot more. See it.

 MY CALL:                                              B-

WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:        There is no substitute for this.  It has a little something for everyone.

IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:            The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2009)

DRINKING MOVIE STATUS:  Why not?  Geoffrey Rush drinks through most of it.

FOR THE SUPERFANS:                     Tiny second-string actor Tony Cox has played a dwarf in all of his movies except for Return of the Jedi, The Ewok Adventure, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, Mom and Dad Save the World and Leprechaun 2.  Okay, I may have missed one or two, but that’s most of them.  (Am I evil for pointing this out…that the dwarf amusingly doesn’t always play a dwarf?  Can you go to Hell for that?)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2011 11:32 pm

    COUNTERPOINT: The Warrior’s Way

    Like myself, our cinefiliac host (Mark) had something to say about The Warrior’s Way. He gave some bullet-points outlining his positive assessment as an opener to my review last week ( Now before I get too deep into this please heed this disclaimer: I really liked the movie. I don’t dole out a “B-“ rating for something I didn’t like. Here are some of my disputes and elaborated agreements of Mark’s commentary.
    1) COMBAT: Mark started with “My buddy John complains about the fight Choreography.” First off, unless I endlessly rave about choreography, I always have a complaint about it. Granted, in this movie the element of a well-planned hand-to-hand combat sequence seemed completely absent to me with the exception of the bout between bustiered Kate Bosworth and long-John’s-wearing Danny Huston.
    Mark continued “I looked at it from the perspective of the movie Equilibrium. Christian Bale steamrolled through people in that movie because he is the best. The warrior in this film is the same thing. He has no competition.” I agree with the superiority of these characters. However, I feel that Equilibrium’s fight choreographer Jim Vickers (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) would be horrified by these remarks. Christian Bale was playing the best, but he used the best moves to take out his foes and each technique had such grace that…God, prima ballerinas would weep tears of joy. When Dong Gun-jang dispatched his foes in The Warrior’s Way it was often a single technique, which would be fine if it wasn’t always the same one performed with stale movement. My complaint is that when our hero swung his sword I never felt like saying “wow”. Not once during the movie—at least not for the swordplay. While Bale was cutting his adversaries’ life support my mouth was usually hanging open in awe as teenagers around the world were thinking “I wish I could do that!” That’s what I was thinking about Bale, and never about Dong Gun-jang.
    When CGI blood from the post-production crew is what separates the winner from the loser, Dong wins. When looking badass is what matters, I give the Oscar to Bale.
    2) GREEN-SCREENING: Mark commented on the “overly green-screened look”. How did I miss mentioning that? The background was often entirely green-screen produced, creating something of a graphic novel feel; very Sin City with colors. If you were to judge any single scene, it would be fair to say that it was overdone. But somehow throughout the movie as a whole this overdone green-screening provided a feel that, I believe, augmented the movie experience. While there were no truly fantastic elements in the movie, the scenery made it feel a bit surreal. What can I say? This movie was very visually appealing. And despite all the CGI composition, vey crisp.
    3) SUBGENRE-FUSION: Mark said “I loved seeing a badass ninja fighting other badass ninjas while fighting badass cowboys.” I am in total agreement. When a director has a good budget to work with and a script that generates subgenre fusion—like, say, a movie with cowboys and ninjas—you’re likely going to have a winner. Although I would warn against Sukiyaki Western Django (2007), which combined spaghetti Western with Japanese action and was perhaps the only movie directed by Takashi Miike that I didn’t really enjoy. Gosh, now I’m REALLY curious about the success of Cowboys and Aliens, which has some serious A-listers.
    That’s my take, folks.

  2. Ninjas, damn permalink
    March 9, 2011 3:59 am

    I’ll take a drive down Warrior’s Way….stay tuned for a third-party review


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