Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Warrior's Way

Year: 2010
Director: Lee Sng Moo
Cast: Jang Dong Gun, Kate Bosworth, Geoffrey Rush, Danny Huston, Tony Cox, Ti Lung

Plot: After refusing his master's orders to kill an infant girl, he flees with the girl to the west, where he starts a new life with a group of carnies in a dusty western town. However, he's forced to pick up his sword again when a ruthless colonel comes to terrorise the town.

Review: Before watching Cowboys & Aliens, I thought about watching this, it's also a merger of two genres, but cowboys and ninjas instead of, you know. Despite the overwhelming negative reviews on it, the concept intrigued me.

Director Lee Sng Moo certainly has a flair for visual style. You'll notice a lot of green screen was used here to create the backgrounds, from desert nights to snowy whites to beautiful red sunsets, which makes the film have a comic book feel to it. The action is also stylish, done in a quick cut, slow mo and spinning camera style. It's almost like Zack Snyder's 300, but not as detailed. And there is where the problem lies.

Lee decides to film his action sequences in a comic style way, instead of an in your face, blow for blow, Donnie Yen style. As a result, most of the swordfights lack substance. You'll see Jang Dong Gun run through his opponents, sword in hand, and cut them all down before they even do anything, which takes all the fun out. There's a lot of blood spatter, but what we really want is some exchange of moves, not just blood.

As for acting, Jang is passable as the assassin with a few words, but I just wish there was more to his character than just that. Kate Bosworth tries too hard to inject some excitement into her character as the knife thrower with a grudge on the Colonel, but comes off as annoying most of the time. To make matters worse, she has no chemistry with Jang at all, so the romantic subplot between them should have been canned. Geoffrey Rush is all right as the town drunk who is good with a rifle, and should have been given more to do. Danny Huston is quite memorable as the cruel Colonel, while the legendary Ti Lung, who's looking like he's past 70, doesn't have much to do here as Jang's master. Someone told me his lines were dubbed, if so that is a real pity. He deserves better.

Overall, the film just gets an okay grade from me. I like the style, but in the hands of a more skilled director, and a better fight choreographer, The Warrior's Way would have been a lot more fun. (3/5)

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