BOX OFFICE REVIEW: The Warrior's Way
Ninjas, cowboys, and circus folk make for a fun action-packed samurai western...
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First let me say I'm not only a fan of Western films like True Grit, Shane, Lonesome Dove, and Open Range but I'm also a fan of Eastern films like The Seven Samurai, Hero, Duel to the Death and Zatoichi. As a fan of both genres, I'd always thought it'd be interesting to combine the two and see what kind of bastard love child they'd make. Enter The Warrior's Way.
Written and directed by newcomer Sngmoo Lee, The Warrior's Way stars a solid cast of talent, including South Korean actor Dong-gun Jang (The Promise, 2009: Lost Memories), the beautiful Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns), the super talented Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) and the frightening Danny Houston (Clash of the Titans, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). With this type of cast, one would expect a movie full of intense drama, deep character development, and solid storytelling.
Instead, what The Warrior's Way offers movie goers is a recycled story with a good number of laughs, stylized action and violence, and some of the most bogus and exciting action scenes on the big screen this year. So that's a backhanded compliment, but it was hard for me not to love The Warrior's Way. After all, its working title could have been "Cowboys vs. Ninjas." In fact, had that been the title, fans of both would probably flock to the theaters to see which comes out on top.
While some might consider The Warrior's Way a recycled plot with recycled characters and a recycled setting; an author I know once told me "You either tell an old story in a new way or a new story in an old way; either way, there's something new about it." That's how it is with The Warrior's Way. You'll recognized the plot, characters, and setting, and yet you'll still find yourself amazed at the intense and exciting way in which each unfolds on screen.
While maybe the film is a bit shallow and sometimes your not sure if you're supposed to take it seriously, the story progresses at a consistent pace with new characters and plot twists entering at strategically planned times, ensuring we as viewers get just what we need to make us want to watch further.
Some might say the effects are unrealistic, the plot is completely ridiculous, and the acting is sub par...but I'd say so what? The effects are stylized which will appeal to any gamer, the plot is only as absurd as ninjas actually fighting cowboys (after all, who brings a sword to a gunfight?) and the acting, while leaving something to be desired, introduces American fans to the talented Dong-gun Jang and once again shows why Kate Bosworth isn't being asked to play Lois Lane again anytime soon. Oh, and Geoffry Rush is as awesome as ever as a town drunk and retired sharpshooter.
If you paid to see The Warrior's Way believing you'd be lead to a higher plain of thinking or hoping you'd realize anything other than how many ninjas a gatling gun can shoot in 10 seconds, you'd be wrong. The Warrior's Way is pure and simple, mindless and super-bloody Western/Eastern entertainment. And tongue in cheek entertainment at that. After all, the town in which the film is set is home to Circus folk. Yeah...scary.
OK, so I lied a bit; there's a little depth to be found in The Warrior's Way as the story reflects, in its purist form, the near perfect American Monomyth, which is always reassuring to see on the big screen. That said, the modern movie goer who enjoys playing video games like Red Dead Redemption and Way of the Samurai won't want to miss The Warrior's Way. It's exactly what you're looking for in a movie: deadly ninjas, angry cowboys, frightening circus folk, a hilarious baby, a revenge story, a redemption story, and more blood, bullets, swords and explosions than a small western town can handle.
The Warrior's Way is rated R for strong bloody violence and is playing in theaters everywhere now.
- Jess C. Horsley