Quickcard Review The Warrior's Way
Directed by: Sngmoo Lee Cast: Dong-gun Jang, Kate Bosworth, Geoffrey Rush, Danny Huston Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: R Release Date: December 3, 2010
PLOT: A small town of outcasts in the wild west rely on the skills of vagabond warrior (Jang) to protect them from a menace called Colonel (Huston), and then later ninjas.
WHO'S IT FOR? Does the concept of "Cowboys vs. Ninjas" sound worth your ten dollars? If you hesitated to answer that question, you probably shouldn't bother. If you screamed "Yes!" at your computer, then this one's for you.
It’s difficult to tell whether director Sngmoo Lee had free reign with this project, one without the control of an anxious, eager-to-please studio, or if The Warrior’s Way is just that – a producer’s film. This movie could be one writer/director desperately trying to legitimize the fantastical concept of Cowboys vs. Ninjas, or it very well could be a studio itself desperately trying to find an instant, easy “cool” factor. What movie could generate revenue from teenage boys based on an absurd concept alone? Was this movie greenlit on its Threadless.com t-shirt friendly premise alone?
One partially amusing factor about this movie is its casting. It's not often we see Danny Huston run around so recklessly, nor play a character this ugly. Geoffrey Rush looks like he's having a bit of fun earning a paycheck, and Kate Bosworth may not be the best ass-kicking woman in a movie supposedly dominated by men, but she's not the worst. The movie's biggest obstacle is caring about the main warrior, who lacks even "Man With No Name" charisma. He comes, as they say, with basically only one character trait: "has sword." Oh, and he likes babies.
The amount of decapitations flying around The Warrior’s Way is admirable, but the film’s R-rating feels like it will be a wounding flaw for box-office numbers. The audience that this type of movie is primarily made for will either have to trick their parents into bringing them, or sneak into the theater after buying tickets for Tangled. A PG-13 rating might have taken away a few chopped heads flying around in slow motion, but if a film like this is going to be cartoonish in concept, it should probably sterilize itself a bit more as a final product. It should be counting on the powerful teenage boy demographic, instead of the “teenage boy at heart” demographic. Besides, you can always satiate any thirst for excessive violence by throwing in some CGI blood for a “Director’s Cut."
The Warrior’s Way tries hard to visually please its limited audience with stylish action that looks like the mental crumbling of an art department, while its surrounding story is Dullsville. And while there are three acts in the movie, it's only the last one that matters. With cowboys gunning up against a circus freakshow, who are then both joined by mystical ninjas, The Warrior’s Way does best when its visual appetite can run fully indulge. Previous parts of the movie hinted at heavy style, with slow motion stand-offs, unique camera angles and a striking color palette, but it finally cuts loose during the last battle. The camera cherishes any moment it can show someone being sliced in slow motion or jumping in mid-air, and the violence reaches an overall surprising level of elegance. At times the sights and the sounds even try to directly mimic Leone. The set-up for its action is sloppy, yet the main course isn't. You'll only see the same amount of fluid choreography in Black Swan.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10