Review: “The Warrior’s Way”
Mixing genres can be fun. Take a traditional western story and set it in outer space. Take a submarine thriller and set it during the Civil War. Transplant a samurai to the western frontier. Should work, right?
The Warrior’s Way, a modestly budgeted flop from last year, is such a collection of joyless clichés that a sure-fire gimmick fails to impress, let alone entertain. The film, coming out this week from 20th Century Home Entertainment, had the makings of something fun or compelling or something instead of arriving limp
Yang (Jang Dong Gun) is an assassin for a clan in blood feud with a rival group. Without expression, he slices and dices his way through the opponents, turning the Japanese roads red with spilled blood. All that now remains is an infant girl and rather than kill her, he takes the babe with him and heads east to America. Somehow, other members of his clan find out this innocent child remains breathing and fear a renewal of the rivalry if she’s allowed to live, so they sail in search of Yang.
The stoic Asian arrives in a late nineteenth century town to seek a friend, who has died. Encouraged by Lynne (Kate Bosworth) to reopen the laundry, she teaches him how to wash clothing and a bond slowly forms. The oddball town has the local drunk with a past, Ron (Geoffrey Rush), and a carnival in residence, its misfit performers led by Eight Ball (Tony Cox). Life settles down and Yang becomes part of the fabric, enjoying the simple things such as planting a garden and delighting in the baby’s development.
Lynne, though, is a tortured soul, having seen her family gunned down by the corrupt ex-Army colonel (Danny Huston) who tried to rape her a decade earlier. When the Colonel returns to town, Lynne tries to exact revenge but is endangered. Yang is then forced to unseal his katana and defend her. The act, though, lets the sword sing, a sound heard leagues away by his clan who come seeking the baby.
After that it gets messily predicable until the end credits. We’ve seen the archetype characters before, all better written and the American cast has certainly done better work in similar roles. Even the wire work felt familiar and uninspiring. There’s little wonder the $42 million film grossed barely over $11 million worldwide. Been there, done that and done far better. This is neither clever or original, funny or a touching homage to what’s come before. This is just a clear misfire from the first frame forward.
I will give the video transfer props for looking great and the score sounds lovely. There are scant extras: a two minute production montage and 12 minutes of mildly interesting deleted scenes.