The Warrior’s Way is a mash-up of multiple genres and movies—Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, wild west meets Asian buddy movies (yes, it’s a very limited genre, but it exists thanks to Jackie Chan in Shanghai Noon/Knights), Fellini-esque fascination with character grotesquery, the comic book/graphic novel, and the visual whimsy (minus the originality) of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, director of Amélie and the City of Lost Children. It's been described as a Wuxia Western, the mixture of martial arts chivalry and the American Western.
Sngmoo Lee, The Warrior's Way looks like it was designed and shot in a computer program. It’s one of those movies where the exterior scenes are hyper-stylized, over-processed, with the sepia cranked to eleven. The action appears to happening within the panels of a comic book (for visual reference points, see Sin City and Speed Racer). That’s good and bad. It’s an effect that adds to the anything-can-happen adrenaline shot the movie wants its audience to experience, while also leaving nothing to the imagination. There’s no in between or breathing room, making for an obvious and tiring movie going experience.
When Yang finally kills the best warrior to capture the title (as defined by who, exactly?) he discovers that a baby lolling in a nearby bassinet is the next generation of his enemy. The baby smiles at the tough Yang and melts his cold heart. Yang travels with the baby to the American West to avoid his own clan who insist he kill their enemy’s next generation. He ends up in a small town where his old friend lives.
What’s a bored warrior with lots of time on his hands to do? He decides to lay roots and reopen his old friend’s laundry business (Note: the original name of the movie was, get this: Laundry Warrior. A lost opportunity for best movie title ever). The warrior meets a young lady, Lynne. Lynne is played by Kate Bosworth, with a rictus smile and a manic energy that makes up for her leading man’s somnolence. It’s fair to say that her technique is so over the top as to appear another CGI effect.
- The carnival folk finally fighting back, with Yang and Geoffrey Rush (when he's sober he's an excellent shot) leading the way.
- One set of bad guys set upon by the next. Always entertaining!
- A visually stunning set piece that takes place in a house’s dank upstairs hallways where Yang fights his way through gun toting desperados in near darkness to reach the room where Colonel has stolen the baby (remember that baby?).
- The final fight between Lynne and Colonel. She’s no master warrior, and while I never felt her life was in danger for a second (Yang was nearby by the whole time) it was good to finally see some fighting that wasn’t entirely assisted by a computer.
Theater location: Lowell Showcase, Sunday afternoon matinee. Price $8.50. Viewed solo.
Snacks—Peanut butter Builder's Bar.
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