Review: THE WARRIOR'S WAY (2010) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Review: THE WARRIOR'S WAY (2010)


At the first glance, THE WARRIOR'S WAY sounds like a fun movie not to be missed -- a comic-book like structure that mixes with classic samurai tale, spaghetti western, and a dash of Tod Browning's FREAKS (1932) thrown in for a mishmash of genre-benders. Topping that is the movie shot in hyper-stylized way like a live-action anime with a touch of 300-like filmmaking style to boot. No doubt an odd mix all over the place, but New York Film School professor-turned-writer/director Sngmoo Lee still deserves some applause for a wild hybrid in his debut movie here. Too bad THE WARRIOR'S WAY is surprisingly mundane with only a flick of entertaining moments simply not enough to call this as a guilty-pleasure fun.

At the beginning of the movie, we follows the story of a brilliant Asian swordsman med Yang (Jang Dong-Gun) who easily slaughtered most of his enemies with a few slashes of his sword. After killing his entire enemy, he still needs to terminate his enemy's newborn baby as well. But for some reasons, he has a sudden change of heart and decides to become the guardian of the baby. And so he flees from his Sad Flute master (Ti Lung) and heads off to the dusty town somewhere in America where he finds a small populations consisting of freaks, circus performers, an old drunk named Ron (Geoffrey Rush), and a feisty knife-thrower named Lynne (Kate Bosworth). He is immediately accepted by the locals, where he is soon bonding a subsequent tender relationship with the baby as well as enchanting Lynne along the way. It doesn't take long before Lynne starts to like him a lot. In return, Yang takes Lynne as his student to learn the art of sword-fighting and knife-throwing skill. Trouble arises when Lynne's sworn enemy, The Colonel (Danny Huston) returns to the town to wreck havoc. But there's more to come -- an army of highly-trained samurai warriors along with the Sad Flute master is looking forward to kill Yang for abandoning their clan.

The premise is simple, and pretty much straightforward. But Sngmoo Lee doesn't know how to sustain a confident pace throughout the movie. As a result, much of the bulk of the movie is wasted with too many melodramatic moments between Yang and Lynne, as well as the colorful people in the town. It doesn't help either especially when the plot is too pedestrian, yet painfully overlong and hardly good enough to generate much interest here.

The movie only comes alive once the climatic finale takes place. Even with all the glorious slow-motion assault in the 300-like style, most of the action set-pieces generate little excitement with mediocre CGI effects. And anyone expecting a classic mano-a-mano showdown between Yang and the Sad Flute master will be gravely disappointed here.

Acting-wise, Korean superstar Jang Dong-Gun does make a few worthy impressions as the noble assassin with few words. Danny Huston is typically fun to watch for as the despicable Colonel, while Kate Bosworth is lovely enough in her feisty role as Lynne. But it's such a waste to see veterans like Geoffrey Rush and Ti Lung reduced to glorious cameo appearances with little thing to do.

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