Movie review: The Warrior’s Way

So last night was Tuesday night, which means $5 movies at the Regal Jack London Square cinema, and I decided to spend some of my hard earned scratch catching up on current pop culture.  I refuse to see any of the Narnia movies, and most of the rest looked like Speed remakes, Harry Potter, or some other piece of dross designed to crowbar Angelina Jolie into the same movie as Johnny Depp.  The only thing that looked like it would appeal to my inner nerd was the Warrior’s Way.

Before I get into the film, let me say the one bad thing about $5 movie tickets is it really drives home how much they are gouging you for candy when you pay $8.75 for a tiny bottle of water and a box of Junior Mints.  I might have to adopt my mom’s childhood policy of sending us to the liquor store for cheap candy before walking in.

Anyway, the Warrior’s Way was not what I expected, which is normally good (see my review of Skyline).  However, it is not really good if what you were expecting was something relatively decent.  It is the creation of a first time writer and director from South Korea with the unlikely I’d-like-to-buy-a-vowel name of Sngmoo Lee.  I don’t want this review to be a reflection of my attitude towards South Korean film, as they have a real growing film business and I have seen some really good stuff coming out of there (if you haven’t seen Save the Green Planet I highly recommend it).

Sngmoo apparently wanted to create a mashup of Western and Eastern culture in the form of Ninjas versus cowboys.  This sounds great in concept, but honestly I think it could have been done a lot better.  I will recap the story without spoilers; however, I don’t need to spoil anything as the story is so cliche and predictable it could have been a porn movie, only with slightly less good acting.  The story is of Yang, the worlds greatest swordsman and the only character who is slightly appealing and believable in spite of the fact that he says about 15 words during the entire film, who opts out of a ninja clan war when he has to kill a baby girl.  He flees to the American Old West and lands in a town who’s sole industries seem to be drinking, caving in to local bullies, and collecting sand.  The set looks a lot like a more surreal version of the set they used in the Star Trek episode Specter of the Gun.  In the town he meets a series of white-trash cliche’s, each less believable than the next, and a super hot red head with a predictably tragic past and an annoying personality.  The rest of the town is half inbred losers and (for some unexplained reasons) an old carnival.  The mayor of the town is also the ringmaster, a midget bald black guy with the kind of insulting name of 8-ball.  There are clowns (in full makeup 24/7 in spite of being in a dustbowl), a bearded lady, a strong man, assorted other surreal freaks, and a town drunk who later turns out to be an amazing gunslinger.  Each one is less believable and appealing than the last.

Anyway, you should be able to tell already that I was less than impressed, but let’s let my patented stars/black holes system speak for itself.  Stars first, as always.

The movie has ninjas.  Two stars.  (ninja image courtesy of the martial arts movie t-shirts category)  It also has cowboys.  One star.  The martial arts sequences have a kind of cool Matrix-like fast motion/slow motion film technique that I liked.  One star.  Kate Bosworth is hot.  One star.  The main character is kind of cool in a dead-inside ninja sort of way.  One star.  The ninja costumes are all pretty cool.  One star.  There is no shortage of killing.  One star.  The action went pretty much as one would expect (ninjas getting shot at range, cowboys getting Ginsu’d up close).  One star.  The photography is pretty good.  One star.  Net total: ten stars.

Now the black holes.  The film has clowns.  One creepy BH.  The story is painfully predictable.  Two BHs.  All the characters except the main one suck.  Two BHs.  The main character spends most of the movie literally babysitting a baby (who, in spite of what looks like months of film time, never grows.  Too cheap to hire more than one child actor, I guess).  Two BHs.  There is little to no motivation for anyone to do anything in the movie, especially for a couple hundred ninjas to travel across the world to kill one baby.  One BH.  Somehow the ninja and his master arrive in the dust hole of the American southwest speaking perfect English.  One BH for continuity.  The cowboy costumes looks like they all just climbed out of a steampunk sewer.  One BH.  The villains all look like low level faceless NPC’s from a video game.  One BH.  The final, epic battle scene between the worlds greatest swordsman and the master who trained him was over in about 30 seconds.  One BH.  There were flashback training scenes (normally very cool) crowbared into the LAST fifteen minutes in a pathetic attempt to add more character development to an already flat character.  One BH for root-canal-like editing.  The set looked like I made it out of balsa wood in a childs sandbox.  The surrounding scenery was bland and boring.  One BH.  The ninjas had magic powers when it was needed to push the story along but never at any other time.  One BH.  Total: 15 black holes.

Subtracting one from the other leaves us with 5 black holes, a painfully bad score.  Honestly this film looked more like a badly written first person shooter video game than a movie.  That being said, there is a real possibility that this could, 5-10 years down the road, turn into one of those cult films everyone loves for being so bad.  Don’t see it in the theater, but if you are looking for a brainless Tuesday night with beer and pizza stream it off NetFlix.

This is turning into a really long post for me, but I have to answer the who would win question from yesterday.  In my opinion, Darth Vader would probably in the long run beat Godzilla, most likely by using his force powers, but ultimately the real loser would be the city of Tokyo.

Today’s question: who would win; Optimus Prime versus the Iron Giant?

Leave a Comment