No one in their right mind would call The Warrior’s Way a good movie, but if you’re in a properly goofy mindset, it’s sure a lot of fun. That certainly requires a fair amount of audience goodwill. The CGI-heavy environment smacks of undue slickness, counting on a high concept gimmick to pull it through instead of story or characters. Most of the stars – including Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth and Danny Huston – are madly slumming, and use the opportunity to attain Maximum Ham as often as they can get away with it. The plot is a grab-bag of pop culture references, drawn from Chinese wuxia, Sergio Leone westerns and that period in Fellini’s development when he completely lost his shit and dove head-first into self-indulgence. But if you can forgive all that or indeed, find it all kind of funny, then the pleasures rarely get guiltier. Hit the jump for the full review.
It starts out with a simple premise that slowly builds into flat-out insanity: that quiet little Chinese launderer (Jang Dong-gun) in the corner of the Western town is actually the god-king bad-ass of the universe. He’s on the run from his former clanmates back in China, who ultimately join up with the local melty-faced bandit king (Huston) to hunt him down. Luckily, he has the backing of the local townsfolk, whom he aided against said bandit king and who would thus feel really bad if he went and got his head chopped off. And oh, did I mention that most of them are retired circus performers?
The cocktail of gunfights, swordfights and general ninja awesomeness never pauses for breath. Everything is taken to hyperbolic extremes, and every scene attempts to top the last for sheer ridiculousness. The hyperactivity presumably acts to cover up for the film’s brazen cribbing from its betters. It offers nothing new or original… just a lot of older material tossed together in the hopes of melding something magical together.
And yet in spite of its threadbare structure, its preposterous story and its frentic spasms of action, it still succeeds in delivering a good time. The cast is clearly in on the joke, and while their overacting can be truly shocking sometimes, they never forget to add a wink and a smile at the end of it all. It’s never high art, but the combination of enthusiasm and go-for-broke chutzpah becomes strangely endearing. Ironically, the hero of the piece stays calm and steady throughout the bulk of it, providing us with an anchor to cling to amid all the insanity.
“Insanity” infers creativity, of course, which The Warrior’s Way definitely doesn’t have. But it’s not asking for the moon and it doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t. It’s cinematic junk food in the purest sense of the term, and while it might not be any good for you, it sure tastes sweet going down. A Blu-ray purchase may be too much to ask – you won’t find yourself grabbing it off the shelf every time you want to watch something – but for those lazy Saturday afternoons when you need to shut your brain off, it may constitute a modest little delight.
The disc itself is quite threadbare, with only a digital copy, some deleted scenes, and a “behind-the-scenes montage” on top of the movie itself. That’s not surprising, but neither should it deter you from giving the film a look.