Sunday, December 05, 2010

In Which The Warlock Brings Some Six-Guns and Shuriken...

With our next-to-last session of the semester, our weekly Deadlands group decided to make a bit of a field trip.  As we wrapped the group's investigation of the DeepWater Lake revival--headed by Jeremiah Riggins, the brother of perennial nemesis, George Riggins--we headed out for the 7:15 showing of The Warrior's Way, an action pic that I'd been looking forward to since I saw the trailers for it earlier this year.

The Warrior's Way--Cowboys vs. Ninjas!
 However, to be honest, when watching the previews and commercials, my hopes were a bit muted.  The concept was straight out of a 14-year-old's wildest fantasies:  a lone ninja-assassin named Yan (played by Dong-Gun Jang) leaves his clan when ordered to kill the infant scion of a rival clan.  He makes tracks for the good ol' U.S. of A., arriving in a near-ghost town named Lode, which is populated by the members of a formerly-traveling circus.  Yan's clan isn't exactly a fan of this idea, and comes to exact bloody revenge. 

Yan soon befriends the citizens in the town, including the hilarious 8-Ball (played by Tony Cox) and lovely and tragic knife-thrower Lynne (played by Kate Bosworth).  However, Yan is further kept from peace by the interference of a certain rogue Colonel (played by Danny Huston), who leads raids against the town.

Jang's performance is somewhat humdrum, but it's not his acting ability that we came to see--it's the fight scenes.  And, truly, The Warrior's Way doesn't disappoint.  Eschewing most of the gore and such, cinematographer Woo-hyung Kim does a fantastic job of stylizing the violence, making the fight scenes visually appealling and fun to watch.  Of particular note is the set design, as the Colonel's men enter the Lode carnival and scale a decrepit Ferris wheel in pursuit of Yan and the child.

I had really been looking forward to seeing Geoffery Rush (playing drunkard/outlaw Ron) ham up the screen, particularly after his hilarious performances in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but this was a bit of a disappointment.  I really would have liked to see him cut loose and ham up the part, but this really wasn't the case.  Rather, he ended up as more of a foil character for Yan, which didn't come across that well.  Concurrently, I wasn't expecting much out of Kate Bosworth's Lynne, but her early performance was particularly pleasing, as she was mischevious and spritely.  Ironically, it's only after the she's established as a romantic interest for Yan that I lost interest in her character. 

Kate Bosworth as Lynne, in The Warrior's Way
Really, though, this isn't a movie you come to see for the acting.  You come to see it for the spectacle and the fight scenes.  And, truly, The Warrior's Way doesn't disappoint.  Massive cowboy vs. ninja battles abound, centering on a madcap chase through the center of Lode, as Yan and Lynne chase down the Colonel, who is in turn pursued by the ninja Headmaster.  There's dynamite, katanas, and makeshift Gatling weapons.  The battles here are truly fantastic set-pieces.  Great stuff, indeed.

Overall, I can't say I really recommend The Warrior's Way based on quality, but it's the sort of movie that you can just turn your brain off and enjoy.  The plot holes are minimal, and the special effects and fight scenes are good enough to keep you wanting more.  Catch a matinee if you get the chance, or rent it on DVD/BlueRay.

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