Review: The Warrior's Way Gives Dull Action to a Stylized Setting
by Jeremy Kirk
December 8, 2010
What do the people in The Warrior's Way eat? They're in the middle of the desert in a small town with no discernible means of supplying nourishment to themselves. When the moment arises to actually plant anything, we cut to a massive garden full of flowers. Pretty, sure, but not really something to keep your body going. At one point, a character is seen eating a steak. Great, but where did that come from? Magical cows that suddenly appear out of nowhere to give their lives for the benefit of humans? Was the steak made of sand? Is there some unwritten subplot involving cannibalism?
You might be asking yourself why it matters, why in this film about 19th century warrior-assassins in the old West an issue of character sustenance might be worth mulling over. The simple fact is it really doesn't, but it should be noted that in a film with this setup, there sure doesn't seem to be much to distract you from trying to piece together moot points such as the one laid out above.
Created by first-time writer and director Sngmoo Lee, The Warrior's Way is a plodding piece of stylish vacuity, an action movie that seems more concerned with ridiculous humor, hammy relationships and cute babies than wall-to-wall sword-swinging and six-shooter-firing. It's a movie as empty and as idle as the desert in which it takes place.
There's a certain level of promise built in the opening moments. Dong-gun Jang is introduced as Yang, the titular warrior and member of a clan who is at war with another clan. Why? Doesn't matter. All that matters is that in the first few minutes of the film, Yang takes out the last remaining members of the opposing side. In the process, he kills the greatest warrior alive taking the title for himself. Little did Yang know that this warrior had a baby daughter, one who Yang can not bring himself to kill. Instead, he takes the baby for his own with his own clan turning on him for his show of humanity.
Before you can say Lone Wolf and Cub, Yang flees to the Americas, more notably Lode, a small town resting in the desert where an old friend is supposed to be residing. Yang doesn't find his friend. Instead, he finds straggling members of a traveling circus, Geoffrey Rush as a town drunk, and Kate Bosworth as the town beauty with a troubled past.
It's here where The Warrior's Way comes to a screeching halt. Any idea of hyperactive pacing or rip-roaring action the opening may have promised get blown into the desert with the tumbleweeds. Having left his former life as an assassin behind him, Yang tries to form a bond with the people of Lode. This includes helping plant the garden, the one with the nice-looking flowers no one can eat, and teaching Bosworth's character the art of knife-throwing. Evidently, all you need to do is blindfold yourself to become a master knife thrower. Kids, do NOT try that at home.
This comes in handy, of course, once Danny Huston's evil Colonel and his band of dirty marauders come to town. For what? Again, it doesn't really matter. They just like to pick on people, I guess. There's no food. It isn't like the townspeople are hiding a vast fortune in ancient gold or anything. This is another idea of picking on minutia that probably wouldn't even bubble to the surface if there was anything interesting going on elsewhere in the movie.
Sadly, the ideas of the townspeople, clowns and bearded ladies alike, rising up against the bullying marauders as well as Yang's clan tracking him to the small town don't amount to much until the film's final 30 minutes. Everything in between the opening and the climaxing battle is made up of meandering moments of Yang looking stoic, Bosworth being just on the right side of cute to be annoying (her accent disappears quicker than the film's action), and Tony Cox being his typical, cringe-inducing self. He plays a character named Eight-Ball. He has a white 8 painted on top of his head. It's cute and a little stupid.
Once the action finally kicks in, it's not epic enough to be worthwhile, but it also isn't poorly constructed. Lee shoots his action with style and patience, giving plenty of room to what is going on to allow us to watch it unhindered. When the final battle is taking place, each member of the three sides is dressed in such a way as to be able to tell who is doing what to who, another plus that isn't always the case in today's world of extreme closeup action. There is a lot of CG and wire work that makes it hokey, but, at the very least, it gives the action a level of fun that is nowhere to be found elsewhere in the film.
Unfortunately, the fun hits too late in The Warrior's Way to redeem it from being anything but a lethargic yet stylish set piece. It moves like a snail and hits with all the intensity of a dulled steak knife, about as far from the concept of a warrior assassin as one can get. When all is said and done, The Warrior's Way, much like the folks in the town which it's set, has absolutely nothing to chew on so the idea of style over substance comes off like a slab of icing without the cake. You know, if that cake even existed in the first place.
Jeremy's Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 13 Comments
Damn....When this site first ran the trailer for it a while back, I was quite excited. I needed a new ninja movie to wipe my mind of ninja assassin. Le sigh.....I guess I'll have to watch Ip Man again (Which is in my opinion the greatest Kung Fu movie I've seen)
Chris on Dec 8, 2010
at least you summed it up on the second sentence to the last paragraph, i figured how bad it was going to be just from the TV commercials alone....
Jericho on Dec 8, 2010
Disagree with this entire review. Movie had good heart, story, characters, and action. It was a perfect blend of many genres taking a similar feel of Casshern and Goemon to the states in a very successful way. One of my top 5 movies this year as well as one of the least shallow action movies in some time. I will agree the trailer is a bit misleading but it was all for the better. I was expecting a cheesy ninja movie but got an actual great artistic action flick in return.
The Dude on Dec 8, 2010
This movie was terrible! I even sat next to some Koreans and they got up and left the theater! Ninja Assassin is better than this! You never gave a damm about any of the characters in this town at all, maybe Bosworth with what happend to her family, but don't waste your time on this! go see something else and pop in the last 20 minutes of the movie, that's all that satisfies!Hopefully they won't do a sequel, but if they do maybe they can have the main character warrior in this go against the guy in Ninja Assassin.
jah p on Dec 8, 2010
nooooooooooooo. such high hopes. sigh. @3, i disliked both casshern and goemon overall.
lego on Dec 8, 2010
I sort of agree with you Jeremy for the most part I found some parts quite strange, the warring clans, I didn't care for knowing why they disliked each other, I think part of the story is that killing each other for meaningless reasons is pointless and unfulfilling. As it is. But the evil dude who rolls into town twice, his story is a little thin, seen as he is such an important bad guy, but still, just knowing he's a bad man is enough to dislike him. Visually there were some really well thought out scenes and it wasn't too over the top. As The Dude mentioned Casshern and Goemon, I've only watched Casshern, like The Warriors Way I really wanted to see it, but upon watching was left wondering what was going on, often it felt like the film was ending over and over, but still kept going. I still love the way it looked and will still make sure I try and see anything the film maker produces, maybe with a bit different scripts it would really blow peoples minds. The approach to how things look, making them almost like a painting is good, after all these films are fantasy and should be viewed as so.
Crapola on Dec 8, 2010
The little things like where to do they get their food .. did not bother me. These things crossed my mind at the start but I was too busy paying attention to everything once it got going I did not care about the trivial stuff. To each their own!
The Dude on Dec 8, 2010
Say it last Sat with the wife and group of friends. It was horrible. I thought it sucked. Everyone fell asleep but me.
Shaun on Dec 8, 2010
this review is just shitty the warriors way is a great action and storyline driven film stupid people OMG a steak... and yet you are one who probably complained that iron man 2 had to much action and no story now your crying that a action movie that has a story and your crying about it... STFU awful review poster and probably first and last time i will ever look at this site.
SHITTy on Dec 8, 2010
I liked it. It's not 'great cinema' but it was entertaining and really didn't try to be more than it was - a weird, unusual movie. Its going to have trouble finding an audience but I for one am glad they still make movies like this. I would give it a 8 out of 10 stars.
NonnyMus on Dec 8, 2010
Yes, because a movie with Ninjas. vs. Cowboys definitely should explain everything, and is definitely not a "fun" movie where you just relax and watch it. Without having to think. The only thing I'll agree with you is that yes, after the first battle against the final clan, the action was slowed down considerably. And that the action (where there was, and almost ALL of the scenes) were great. But paced at a point where it just didn't feel like it met up with the expectations considering how long we waited for them in the movie. Although if taken directly out of the movie, and put into little clips, I would say some of the scenes were awesome. But seriously though, where do you get people to review movies Alex? This guy doesn't seem to know the difference between a "thinker" movie and a "ride" movie. Pointing out where they got steak from? Seriously? You might as well have this guy review Jackass 3D, he'd be asking himself "Why are these people doing these things? If it's just 'for fun', there has to be some kind of psychological reasoning behind their actions. Why is it that their childhood is never visited to explain these personality traits? Either way, they're just doing things that I find stupid. Therefore, this movie is stupid. 1/5." And that was just a general example, maybe you did like Jackass, I was only using it to show how silly your train of logic was for reviewing The Warrior's Way. Despite that though, I agree with the lot of your post. But that's a pretty huge disagreement.
danielvutran on Dec 9, 2010
I saw this movie and I liked it a lot. I know a lot of negative reviews are out there, mostly because there is not a lot of sword fighting in this movie….and for a good reason! The premise of the movie is the hero is so good, nobody lives to take a 2nd shot at him. So basically ever time he fights, he kills with the first blow…and thus the enemy is dead. This movie is not really a martial arts film and should be compared to another graphic comic book movies like Sin City. You are here to see a graphic comic book brought to life, no more and no less. And that is why I loved the movie. If you are looking for incredible dialog or an original story, this is not it. But it is still worth seeing if you love a visually stunning movie with cowboys and ninjas.
Steve on Dec 17, 2010
The movie is entertaining to those who dont have there head shoved up there ass.
Noone on May 15, 2011
Sorry, new comments are no longer allowed.