Monday, January 23, 2012

The Warrior's Way (2010)

     When I first saw a trailer form The Warrior's Way (2010), I immediately lamented that someone greenlit this project in a world where I cannot get a game of Ninja's & Superspies together.  But I am game for most crossover movies that don't go the Shadowrun route - you've got sci-fi in my fantasy; you got fantasy in my sci-fi - and I assumed that there had to be good action sequences.  Plus, there had to be a chance of there being a story hidden in there.
     There is, but it isn't handled especially well.  Ultimate swordsman Yang (Dong-gun Jang) murders his way across Japan in the name of a Clan feud, but he cannot bring himself to kill an innocent baby.  This leads to lot of killing of his former Clan mates.  The action is stylized, but somewhat sanitized.  There is no weight to any of the killings and it is up to Jang to show how the conscious of a stone cold assassin can be touched.  I think Jang succeeded, but he doesn't have a lot of help along the way.  He winds up in an odd town in the US West that is all barren ground and semi-retired circus folk.  Throw in Kate Bosworth overdoing an accent and Geoffrey Rush barely registering, and that is kind of how The Warrior's Way operates.
     There are competing bad guys (which doesn't really work) and comical action sequences (which do work, and hint at how this could have been a much more sly and clever movie) to balance out the stilted dialogue.  Jang is spared of having to say much – it fits the character – and his character isn't supposed to be overly emotive, so the little things he does end up working quite well.  Unfortunately, he is often removed from his own story and forced to interact in the less compelling drama of the townfolk.
     It is not surprising that The Warrior's Way didn't find a large audience.  It is not an expected mash-up.  Sadly, it would most likely have been a much better film without involving any American/Australian actors and letting the whole of the film play out in Asia and with substitles (when dialogue would be necessary).  It would have felt much more like a stylized graphic novel done right that way.  As it it, it can serve as a diversion, but I doubt anyone is going to watch it and declare, that's what I've been waiting for.

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