The Warrior’s Way
When Yang (Jang) refuses to assassinate the last of his rival’s clan, he must flee his own past in order to protect himself and the child he spared. Chased by an army of ninjas, damn, and arriving in the Wild West town of Lode, he teams up with Lynne (Bosworth) and starts to build a life without bloodshed. Under the watchful drunken eye of Ron (Rush), Yang begins to connect with the people around him, experiencing unfamiliar feelings for the first time in contrast to a life lived by the sword. But the return of the savage Colonel (Huston), with a violent history involving Lynne, and his bandits forces Yang to decide to return to his bloody skill to help her – unwittingly calling his old clan of assassins to him.
Right. Ninjas. Check. Swords. Check. Kate Bosworth. Check. So far the equation for The Warrior’s Way is looking very promising. But let’s go back to the beginning shall we? Yang begins his journey just after killing some badass looking ninjas/Mortal-Kombat-Raidins and the world’s greatest swordsman (literally, it’s spelled out so we don’t fail to recognize it) in epic fashion. After that visually stunning sequence (the film is definitely pretty) he proceeds to the tiny carriage the holder of the former title was defending. Only to find…*gasp* a child! “Who would have thought such a tiny sedan would contain a baby?” Yang’s expressionless face seemed to say. The baby’s enchanting laugh at a sakura blossom falling on his face halts him from dispatching the child and disregarding quite possibly decades of training, Yang scoops up the child and kills a few more ninjas before taking ship to the West.
Putting sarcasm aside momentarily, The Warrior’s Way is visually awesome. I hesitate to compare the style to Zack Snyder’s 300, both him and director Sngmoo Lee use predominantly green screens and such, but it does manage to single itself out. Cuts are a lot shorter in comparison, the angles changing frequently during fight scenes, and overall the places the story unfolds are uniquely eye catching. The dingy West town has fantastic appeal and an old school look, and the circus Ferris wheel that looms over it all supplies a great comedic feeling. Something which is only exceeded by the terrific use of sound. At one point Yang cuts off both the arms, awesome, of a machine gun wielding bandit – the gun falls to the ground, shooting wildly, and as each shot rings out it actually sounds like it’s forming part of the music. A sound I would equate to someone beating a drum with a burning phosphorus stick made out of pure awesome.
But then the problem, the most glaring, crops up. The film presents itself as an action, an epic visually stunning action, and while it succeeds at being stunning – there are a total of two action sequences. The beginning fight and the end fight. Everything in between is just Yang and Lynne doing laundry and chatting with the townspeople. Naturally things get established with the ending in mind, but the conclusion is nowhere near epic enough to warrant the build up the film gives itself. Most probably because this legendary Yang, killer of quite possibly hundreds of ninjas and the worlds greatest swordsman, contributes a tiny bit to the protection of the town in the climactic fight. The film’s been telling us the whole time how badass he is, why not show it? Could he not at least have just killed the whole bunch by himself and spared some of townspeople getting shanked?
The Warrior’s Way is then certainly entertaining, and visually memorable, but it doesn’t do itself any favours by dragging out its story unnecessarily and not upping the intensity. I mean, come on, you’ve got ninjas! Damn.