Friday, December 3, 2010

Movie Review: The Warrior Way

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The life of a warrior is always a lonely life. They train by themselves or are trained by a mentor for that one moment in time. They travel down a road forsaking everything else geared for the event that they are destined to fulfill. Sometimes they know the specific event and often times they don't. They just know when the time is right their head and heart will come into alignment to complete the solitary task presented to them. But life couldn't be that simple, could it? An obstacle appears and a decision based on new information or tug of the inner voice will present itself: accomplish the task or divert from the road they've been following to go onto a path who's outcome will play an ever greater significance in their life or destiny. Such is The Warrior Way.

First time writer Sngmoo Lee gives us the tale of Yang (South Korean actor Jang Dong Gun) who is seeking to become the greatest swordsman in the world. He must wipe out his enemy but comes the decision to kill the last member of the rival clan or show mercy and compassion. Of course, without some sort of conflict there would be no movie, right? So Yang shows mercy and compassion with the result being that he must flee Asia because he has betrayed his own clan. He knows he'll be chased so he goes to America because he has a friend there.

In the opening sequence I feel like I'm watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Wire work, tall bamboos, mega slashings and accentuated sword work fill the screen. Once Yang arrives in America to the town of Lode it starts to look like a Terry Gilliam film containing this imaginative western town that has a circus with its performers and a ginormous unfinished ferris wheel at the end of main street of this run down town out in the middle of this wide open plain. Yang is welcomed into town where he attempts to start a fresh new life.

The town has its own issues as its ambassador, a little person ring master, Eight Ball (Tony Cox) tells Yang of the story of Lynne (Kate Bosworth) and her encounter with their own merciless bad guy The Colonel (Danny Huston). She survived his unwelcome advances many years earlier only to loose her family in the process. She wants revenge and eventually wants to learn from the greatest swordsman in the world how to use knives to extract her retribution.

Her past and his past collide at the same time. The Colonel and his men show up in town at the same time as the ninjas who have tracked down Yang. The battle scenes were over the top with the amount of blood spatter or mist earning the film an R rating for strong bloody violence. It was fun to watch wire work and computer graphics tied into your standard middle of the dusty main street gun fight. They weren't totally cliche as I didn't see any tumbleweeds cross the street while waiting for guns or swords to be drawn. Next year Cowboys & Aliens comes out and they will have a similar type of battle. We'll have to compare which battle is better in the old west, aliens or ninjas.

In the hundred minute running length you'll be thrown a gambit of visuals and emotions. The visuals will be strong, the emotions not so strong. Bosworth does a respectable job of a women out for revenge. Geoffrey Rush as the town drunk Ron gets top billing but I don't know why as it was Yang's story not his personal story although he did narrate. This was my first seeing Dong Gun in a movie. Physically he captured the ninja swordsmen well, but he didn't have all that many lines. Most of the other people were telling his story while he did the action part.

Was it a great movie? No. Was it a bad movie? No. If you're into either ninjas or westerns, you'll probably find this movie interesting. In case you're wondering, there were no easter eggs. As a little piece of trivia, there was a South Korean actor battling Japanese ninjas in the old American West town filmed on a sound stage in New Zealand. Pretty good way to represent the Asia-Pacific Rim!

The Movie Monkey

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