December 12, 2010

You know it’s NOT going be a great cinematic experience when 1) your only introduction to the movie was remembering vaguely that you passed by a billboard with the said movie’s poster while driving somewhere and 2) you had to ask your friend who bought the tickets “What’s the title of this movie again? ” as you were walking into the theatre.

Usually in my reviews, I do my best to sum up the plot before going deeper into the pros and cons of the movie. Unfortunately for this one, I am not so sure what the plot is. In fact I don’t even have a blinking clue as to what the whole point of this movie is. Or why we bothered to organise an outing just to watch it. But I shall try my best, so here goes….

The Warrior’s Way is Sngmoo Lee’s playwright and directorial debut. It tells the story of a Warrior-assassin named Yang and the adventures he had in his journey. In the opening scene, Yang was seen fighting members of another warrior-assassin clan. In the end, Yang won the fight against the strongest warrior from the other side and claimed the title of being the strongest, for himself. During this part, the fight scene was paused and a caption appeared on screen, verbatim to the earlier narration, something to the tune of “The Strongest Warrior Who Ever Lived” . At this moment one would be left baffled and thinking 1)” Was that a joke?” and 2) “Seriously..was that a joke?”

Amidst the uncomfortable and somewhat confused laughter emanating throughout the cinema, Yang discovered that the previous Strongest Warrior Who Ever Lived (which Yang now is) had left behind a baby daughter who he was supposed to kill in order to completely wipe out the clan. However because the director said so, so that there would actually be some semblance of  a storyline after slashing a lot of people mercilessly, he suddenly discovered that he did in fact have a heart and couldn’t bear the idea of killing a child. Therefore, he took the baby with him and set off on a journey to get away from his own clan as they now considered him a traitor for refusing to kill the last remaining member of the other clan.

I am not really sure which exact period this movie was set in but someone must have told Yang that America is the Land of the Free (and what better place to go to when you are a wanted fugitive?!) cause he and the baby eventually ended up in a small run-down cowboy town called Lowe, occupied by what seemed like a rag-tag band of circus travelers, (which is rather strange as I would’ve thought that a traveling circus would be doing just that, instead of being so settled in a community that cobwebs were growing out of their ears.)

In Lode he was welcomed with open arms (surprising considering blacks were slaves, and the red indians were being massacred back in the 1800’s..but hey, oriental dude.. come on in! :P) and set about trying to start a new quieter life as the town laundryman.  Eventually his old clan found him and at the same time a gang of cowboy bandits invaded Lode and terrorized all the people there, causing them to fight back. What ensued was a battle of all ages (or so they would try to make you believe).. with Ninjas dressed in conical farmer’s hats fighting dirty ugly toothless bandits and a mishmash of circus freaks. During this flabbergasting epic clash, the only thing you would somewhat get is that Yang and freaky circus people are the good guys. The rest, don’t even bother trying to figure it out. In the end, all the bad (and as in most war/ battle movies, good) people died and Yang realised that he could never settle down to a normal life. So he left the baby with the townfolks and set off on another journey.

Geez, what do you know? I managed to extract some semblance of a story after all (albeit a shallow and nonsensical one at that). Anyways, lets start with the plot and storyline. It did not make any sense at all..I am quite sure that this was supposed to be a lighthearted tongue-in-cheek movie not to be taken seriously, but the trouble with attempting this is that it either flies brilliantly or falls flat on the producers’ faces. The Warrior’s Way falls into the latter. The way the story moved didn’t make the idea of a Samurai warrior ending up in a cowboy town even remotely plausible. You can’t decide whether some parts are supposed to be funny, or they were unintentionally funny as a result of poor execution. The parts that were supposed to be jokes just fell flat, whilst the parts that were supposed to be serious just came across as ridiculous and melodramatic (case in point : the final battle between Yang and the master of his old clan The Sad Flute where the latter fell to his death and uttered a statement clearly and coherently in spite of having had his jugular vein slashed).  The only notable mention is the subplot where the heroine (who happened to be the only semi hygienic bang-worthy chick in the entire town) tried and succeeded in avenging the death of her family at the hands of the leader of the bandit many years back.


Jang Dong Gun as Yang is as wooden as they come. I know most heroes in these kind of movies are supposed to be calm, quiet, reserved and brooding killing machines but honestly he took it to an entirely different level. So much so that next to him, Jason Statham’s performance in the Transporter franchise would be considered Oscar-worthy. Oh well, at least he was hot! 😛 Whatever was lacking in Don Gun’s acting, Kate Bosworth as Lynne more than made up for through her overacting.  Geez, in the past I’ve always associated overacting with Latin soaps and Malay jiwang karat movies, never would I have imagined that a Hollywood actress could also be prone to this disease, particularly one like Kate Bosworth who I did have some semblance of respect for. Even her Southern accent will make you want to cringe. And as each other’s love interest in the movie, both exude as much chemistry as dry wall paint and the lizard that crap on it. 😛

The only saving grace was Geoffrey Rush as the drunkard Ron. Though useless and annoying at first, he later turned out to be a a hero of sorts who played a big part in saving Lode during the war. For all of the flimsiness  of this movie, he did lend his character some depth and credibility. Especially when we learn of his sad and tragic past which led him to become a drunk in the first place. I just wished that they had given him more scenes!!

As far as the special effects go, once again, I wasn’t a fan. Probably because I prefer my battle scenes to look like those from Braveheart and Gladiator and not like they are from 300 or Clash of the Titans. Perhaps the overly done CGI effects were intentional to give the movie a somewhat unique video-gamish feel. In most scenes, you will see swords slaying, body parts flying and bright red blood spraying in slow mo as the hero stands sullenly amidst the chaos! Whilst some may find the vivid play of colours mesmerising, for me it just add a surreal quality to an already increadulous movie.

Overall I can just say this, if you are a fan of cowboy movies..you should give this one a miss. If you are a fan of Kungfu/ Samurai/ Ninja movies.. you should give this one a miss. If you are a fan of  both..you should also give this one a miss.. cause as evidenced by The Warrior’s Way, whilst cowboy movies and samurai movies are amazing theatrical experiences on their own, putting them together is neither entertaining nor cinematically pragmatic.

To quote one of my good friends who watched this with me… “The best thing about this movie is the super cute baby!”

– The End-


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