Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews The Warrior’s Way
I didn’t have much in the way of expectations heading in to see The Warrior’s Way. I figured hey, cowboys vs. ninjas, wire-fu… what’s not to like as long as that’s all you’re expecting.
Well one thing I didn’t expect was an ill-placed attempt at comedy mixed in with the above ingredients.
The Warrior’s Way starts off like it’s going to be some semi-epic, mystical story – telling us about the ultimate swordsman (played by Dong-gun Jang), and how he was within reach of killing off the last of the enemy clan. Problem is the remaining member is a tiny baby girl, and in a moment of humanity (for him) she wins his heart and he decides to take her with him. This sets his own clan against him and he escapes to America, to find himself in a tiny, mostly abandoned and dying town filled with misfits (really, like, a tiny circus).
Our warrior meets a podunk Western young lady (Kate Bosworth) who takes him under his wing. Among the other residents of the town are the drunk (Geoffrey Rush, who is in this film for some bizarre reason), a midget mayor (Tony Cox), and an assortment of old west rednecks. Our hero transitions from being the outsider to being a member of the strange little community.
At first it seems like the film will try its hand at being a parody of kung-fu films, with some odd captions floating on-screen stating the title of “the ultimate swordsman,” and scenes of Jang effortlessly avoiding assassination attempts while taking care of an infant. Once he arrives in the U.S. the “comedy” antics continue with Rush as the comic foil, complete with a shot of him passing out from booze with half his butt hanging out of his pants (it’s a laugh-riot, I tell ya).
Ah, but then throw into the mix a dark past for Bosworth’s character, involving Danny Huston as a villainous bad guy, chewing the scenery like John Travolta when he plays a baddie. While it’s all over the top, it shifts gears from an attempt at goofy comedy to a dark story of murder and attempted child rape. As I said: Bizarre combination in this film.
Jang eventually teaches Bosworth how to properly wield a knife in combat, as she is woefully bad prior to his arrival despite the fact she practices every single day. She wants revenge and Jang gives her the skills to allow her to possibly achieve that goal.
Of course the old clan follows our hero from overseas using kung-fu/ninja movie supernatural-seeming methods to locate him. If you don’t mind beyond-reality wire-fu martial arts, the film is actually quite impressive visually once the assassins arive – except for the addition of CGI blood, which in my book always is always a weak substitute for Karo syrup and red dye.
The film actually improves once they drop most of the comedy attempts and focus on revenge, violence and ninjas vs. cowboys. Instead of the annoying close-in quick cuts, we have here the use of long-shot slow motion scenes of choreographed battles. Now this is not to say that the film actually gets “good” – it just gets better from the silly mess that comes before.
This movie was written and directed by Sngmoo Lee, who has no credits other than this film. While it has some beautiful imagery (green screen, I would estimate), really it’s a pretty ridiculous film. Not the sort of ridiculous that will make you angry that you sat through it, but ridiculous as in “silly.” Frankly, I’d say that eventually, this is worth a watch as a goof and for the battle scenes towards the end – but save it for a rental and invite over some friends who bring a couple of six-packs as the price of admission.
You can see a trailer for The Warrior’s Way here: