I don’t think The Warrior’s Way is a particularly bad film but it is one that was done a bit amateurishly despite the acting talents of Geoffrey Rush and Danny Huston. In regards to the Blu-ray, the features are forgettable but the audio and video transfers are both excellent so the few fans there are for the film, and they are fairly vocal, will certainly enjoy the experience.
Genre(s): Action, Martial Arts, Fantasy
Fox | R – 100 min. – $39.99 | June 28, 2011
Directed by: Sngmoo Lee
Writer(s): Sngmoo Lee (written by)
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston, Jang Don Gun, Tony Cox
Theatrical Release Date: December 3, 2010
Features: Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
This summer will see the release of the Harrison Ford/Daniel Craig action tentpole, Cowboys vs. Aliens but it was only a few months where we got a unique mash-up of Ninjas vs. Cowboys entitled The Warrior’s Way starring South Korean up-and-comer Jang Dong Gun making his Hollywood debut.
The story is about a ninja warrior named Yang (JANG) who is a master swordsman entrusted to annihilate enemies which he does with great ease until he comes upon a baby princess whom he is also to kill but something inside of him will not allow it. So at the risk of his masters taking his own life, he flees across Asian and on a ship to the West where ending up at wasteland of an American Western town where a good friend once lived and worked. The town was once a center for a freak show circus but now nearly abandoned thanks to a psychotic and cruel Colonel (DANNY HUSTON).
Yang decides to take over the clothes cleaner shop his friend once ran with the help of a tough gal named Lynne (KATE BOSWORTH) whose childhood was stolen from the Colonel after he brutally murdered her entire family. Some of the other townsfolk weren’t too keen on having an Eastern man in their midst but they quickly abide with the help of ringmaster and comic relief Eight-Ball (TONY COX) getting his name because he’s bald and, well, has the number “8” on his head.
Just as Yang was beginning to make the town his home, leaving his mark planting colorful flowers where once things were dead, the Colonel returns to town looking for women with perfect teeth (his fetish) and despite the townsfolk from stopping Lynne from trying to exact revenge, the Colonel finds her, nearly killing her before Yang steps in to save the day… but that’s only temporary as he uses his mystical sword which “cries” and leads the ninja assassins to his location which begins the ninja vs. cowboys may lay.
I can see why this film was in and out of theaters in a blink because even visually, where writer-director Sngmoo Lee, in his debut on both accounts, certainly presents an interesting look and atmosphere not unlike what Zack Snyder does in his films, albeit on a lesser budget. Now, you take the look of a Snyder film and combine with a toned down version of a Baz Luhrmann script and you basically have The Warrior’s Way in a nutshell.
As far as the film itself goes, it’s not at all terrible yet at the same time was in need of some rewrites because as cool as it might sound to have ninjas take on cowboys, it never quite takes hold during the third act. This isn’t to say it’s not a fun exercise but it’s fairly forgettable.
Speaking of forgettable, I can understand why Jang Dong Gun was in this making his Hollywood debut and following the footsteps of others from the region like Jackie Chan and Jet Li (both from China while Dong-Gun is from South Korea). Here he probably plays it a little too cool and emotionless, though I guess that could be how he and the writer/director decided to portray the ninja assassin who is on the brink of having no soul…
But his excuse doesn’t exactly explain why these Hollywood veterans are in this film. First, while Kate Bosworth is hardly a fantastic actress, and she has the clichéd Old West accent – which dances on the edge of annoying and obnoxiousness –, she still has some talent but not enough to overcome any script problems. Next, you’ve got Danny Huston having the time of his life underplaying his villain Colonel character, mostly behind a mask that’s part Hannibal Lecter, part Phantom of the Opera. It’s a bit theatrical for sure, but at least one person was having a good time.
Then you’ve got the crème-du-le of the cast in Geoffrey Rush who on the posters and credit block gets top billing (and I’m certain accounts for a decent number of the reported $42 million budget). Literally from the time Yang gets into town Rush basically plays the town drunk before we get to know what’s behind the drink near the end; it has something to do with the love of his life’s death and the promise to lay down his arms (he’s a highly skilled sharp shooter). But even when we get to the point where he actually contributes something to the film, it’s all underwhelming.
All that being said, The Warrior’s Way is hardly a bad film as some have labeled it as there is some entertainment value to go along with a half-decent visual element but at the same time, the story is disjointed and the editing by Jonathan Woodford-Robinson (served as an assistant editor on Return of the King) doesn’t help matters. In the end, the film is alright and I’m sure will find its own loyal following.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.25/5
Given the film’s terrible box office performance ($11 million worldwide), it’s not surprising that this received a sparse set of features. The Blu-ray itself has a glossy, reflective slip cover; on the disc is a Behind-the-Scenes Montage (2:26; HD), a set of Deleted Scenes (12:10; SD) and on the second disc, a Digital Copy.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The Warrior’s Way slashes its way onto Blu-ray high-def with a fine looking video transfer. The detail levels throughout looks great with some film grain and noise helping give it a natural look as you would see in theaters. The transfer is helped by the director’s stylized visuals where we range from dusty oranges to the bright colors of the flower bed and the grays and darker tones during a few of the fight sequences.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio track packs a punch with a fair amount of depth throughout while the dialogue, unfortunately enough, can be clearly understood. The action scenes is where the track shines where you can hear each sword hit or the simple drops of rain pouring down as a ninja fight ensues.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, I don’t think The Warrior’s Way is a particularly bad film but it is one that was done a bit amateurishly despite the acting talents of Geoffrey Rush and Danny Huston. In regards to the Blu-ray, the features are forgettable but the audio and video transfers are both excellent so the few fans there are for the film, and they are fairly vocal, will certainly enjoy the experience.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.