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The Warrior's Way - Blu-ray Movie Review

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The Warrior's Way - Blu-ray Review

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4 stars

There’s no reason I can provide this review with to justify in you, dear reader, the absolute enjoyment I have for this film.  I know enough about film to recognize that The Warrior’s Way isn’t a great film in the pantheon of filmmaking.  There’s nothing wholly original in it as it steals far too much from other cherished classics of genre cinema to garner much of a respect for its storyline.  Yet, against the tide of common sense and practical application of everything I know about films and filmmaking, I found myself grinning and laughing while I watched this goofy East-meets-West buffet of kung-fu buffoonery and cowboy camaraderie.

Perhaps it’s my love for Shogun Assassin.  Perhaps it’s my affection for the films of Sergio Leone.  Maybe I just love B-movies way too much to simply recognize this film as the stylized steaming pile of crap it is.  Yet, it’s not boring.  It isn’t dying to be loved by people.  This film – in cinemas that is – will be lucky to get back its production cost.  Still, there’s an effervescent joy that comes with watching this film that makes it hard to ignore – even if it cannot (and it shouldn’t) be taken seriously.  That’s why I love it.  The Warrior’s Way knows exactly what it is and I, for one, think that goes a long way in finding an appreciation for the film as the cinematic good time that it actually is.   Which brings me to the point of this introduction, this film is not for everyone.  It’s for the badasses and the babes who love them.

Stealing its storyline from the cherished Lone Wolf and Cub series, The Warrior’s Way follows the consequence of one badass swordsman’s (Jang Dong-gun) refusal to kill his last enemy because it is a three-week-old baby girl.  Instead of slicing and dicing the little one’s baby fat away, he heads to America, hoping to outrun his own clan now properly pissed that he didn’t (or couldn’t) finish the job of revenge.  The frontier of America isn’t any place for refuge, though.

Once settled in a town full of former circus performers, Yang – who has no interest in talking through the entire film - bumps heads with a butt-nasty bandito named Colonel (Danny Huston) and his murderous bullet-happy associates, “befriends” the town’s mean-spirited drunk (Geoffrey Rush), and earns the trust of a knife-wielding Kate Bosworth (think Jessie from Toy Story and you’ll understand/appreciate her performance more), all while protecting the town from the banditos and himself from his own clan chomping at the bit to remove his head.

Do you hear the Shakespearean tragedy in that synopsis?  Is there any room for great sentiment in the screenplay written by Lee?  Hear the teenage angst?  The great pathos?  The epic sensuality?  I thought so.  And if you go in to any theatre in America expecting all that and more, well, you are a sucker and you just got punched.  Obviously, we weren’t watching the same trailers.

Remember Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon from 2000?  This isn’t that film.  This has clowns.  And they kill cowboys.  Hell, yes, it’s cold-blooded.  That’s why it works.  The villain doesn’t explain anything.  These characters don’t have feelings.  No caveats.    There’s no beauty in it; the beauty is in the blood-letting and this, The Warrior’s Way, is the carnival of Hell.

Everyone involved with the film gets the humor behind The Warrior’s Way and hams it up with fantastic results.  Operatic?  No.  Cheesy.  Funny.  Certainly worthy of more than a few chuckles, the actors in The Warrior’s Way simply go out their way to make this little vehicle o’ fun an entertaining carnival ride through the desert sands of the Old West.

First-time director Sngmoo Lee certainly has a flair for stylized … um … EVERYTHING.  This looks as if a child – full of awe and inspiration – went about imagining its action pieces.  What id we did this?  What if we did that?  What if? What if? Everything is over the top and wickedly cool.  The Warrior’s Way, in a perfectly bizarre homage to classic Hollywood, is shot and filmed on physical sets in order for the stunt work to function properly and for the green-screened locations to be as wickedly wild as Lee imagines them to be.  And, certainly, they are – giving the film a little room to stand on its own with and shout “Look, Ma, no hands!”  With breakneck speed and cinematic dazzle, there are some fantastically rendered realms to play with in the midst of all that swirling fog.  And, with the bulk of its money coming from Producer Barry M. Osbourne (The Lord of the Rings) the film should pay off in the visuals department.

The Warrior’s Way isn’t romantic.  It’s not an epic three-part fantasy either.  I have a feeling that Lee wouldn’t know what to do with such operatic notions except to repeatedly strike the DELETE button on his computer.  The film isn’t a moody piece of cinema hell-bent on telling a revenge flick like last year’s Ninja Assassin.  It, unlike some other tales of violence, doesn’t have a moral.  It exists to exist.  There are also no children waving wands around either and shouting “expecto patronous” while fleeing Dementors.  A sure-fire misstep, I’m sure in finding it any success in Hollywood.  Yet, it is magical.  It is dark.  And it is child-like in its imaginative spirit.  And, going in with the right attitude, The Warrior’s Way might just leave you with a sugar tooth for cinema that no Bertie Bott bean could ever satisfy.

{pgomakase}

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The Warrior's Way - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence.
Director: Sngmoo Lee
Writer
: Sngmoo Lee
Cast: Kate Bosworth; Dong-gun Jang; Geoffrey Rush
Genre: Action | Fantasy | Western
Tagline: The Warrior's Way
Distributor: Rogue Pictures
Official Site:
www.iamrogue.com/thewarriorsway/fullsite
Release Date: December 3, 2010
Memorable Movie Quote: "You must kill the last of their clan."
Blu-ray Release Date: June 28, 2011.

Synopsis: The Warrior's Way, a visually-stunning modern martial arts western starring Korean actor Dong-gun Jang who plays an Asian warrior assassin forced to hide in a small town in the American Badlands.The fantasy action film was written and directed by newcomer Sngmoo Lee.

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The Warrior's Way - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Review:

Available on Blu-ray - June 28, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English; French; Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs:
Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (on disc)

This East-meets-West mash-up looks stunning on its HD debut. The 1080p transfer supports the fantasy vision of the film (and its multitude of physical sets) with an otherworldly hue that halos each frame. The colors are bright and vibrant and visually resonant with the cinematic cheesy fun of the picture.  The soundtrack, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, further compliments the picture with a wonderfully immersive experience.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None.

Special Features:

Offering twelve servings of deleted scenes and a brief montage of behind the scenes footage, The Warrior’s Way is a lackluster blu-ray release.  While it does come with a digital copy of the film, the lack of supplemental material is a bit of a disappointment.

  • Deleted Scenes (12 min)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Montage (2 min)

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