Apparently, when Tony, Emmy, and Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush isn’t making films like Shine, The King’s Speech, or Elizabeth, he jumps on board for insane projects like The Warrior’s Way, which is a movie about stuff which takes place in a time that isn’t now and features characters – many of whom are good with weapons.
Directed and written by Sngmoo Lee (which may be the Asian equivalent of Alan Smithee), Way is an attempt to fuse the Western genre with samurai/ninja slasher tropes. This is not exactly new ground, mind you. In fact, one could argue that filmmakers have been trying this fusion ever since The Magnificent Seven “localized” Kurosawa’s classic Seven Samurai epic and turned sword-wielding warriors into American gunslingers.
Both of those movies were legend-waitforit-ary in their own right. The Warrior’s Way is just dumb-waitforit-stupid.
Dong-gun Jang stars as Yang, the lead badass and the invincible swordsman who takes any kind of suspense out of the plot just by existing. In the first few minutes – as he dispatches a squad of assassins and the former Greatest Swordsman in the History of Mankind with an ease reminiscent of turning on a faucet – we are made entirely aware that Yang is incapable of losing. So even if they had thrown the entire Third Reich and the Enola Gay at him, Yang would come out on top and virtually unscathed.
But Yang – well, he goes and does a silly thing. He rescues the infant princess of his clan’s bitter rivals and thus they TURN ON HIM AND OH MY GAWD EVERYTHING GOES HORRIBLY AWRY. Yang kills an old woman and burns her house down before she can kill the little princess, and then mows down his own clan’s samurai-ninja-things. And then he goes to America.
He quickly falls in with a crowd of carnival freaks, but perhaps the freakiest of all is Kate Bosworth doing what is possibly the worst “Western” accent in all of film. If you’ve ever given a cat a bath, you will recognize the sounds Bosworth makes in her attempt at portraying the “spunky” Lynne.
I won’t bore you with the plot – what there is of it – because it’s just the typical revenge-bloodbath-redemption fare that sub-sub-par Westerns and martial arts flicks inevitably fall back on. What surprising is that Geoffrey Rush makes an appearance as the town drunk/best shot in the West. Yes, not only does he appear in the film, he plays one of the most over-used character cliches in Westerns. Anyone could have played this role. If Howard Taft were still alive, he could have played this role. What the multiple-award-winning Rush saw in it I’ll never understand, unless he was just tickled by the idea of being probably 95% of the movie’s budget.
So Geoffrey Rush shoots a bunch of people, Dong-gun Jang slices a bunch of people, and Kate Bosworth runs around and kills two guys and makes me want to develop Darth Vader’s Force-choke powers so she’ll shut the hell up. And then Yang goes to Antarctica or something.
It’s really good.
Anyway, I know I’m missing the point of such a movie: turn off your brain and watch dudes get sliced up real good. But the mindless spectacle wasn’t very spectacular, so I was stuck trying to make sense of all the stupid things I was seeing and I couldn’t. And so, this review.
Go see The Warrior’s Way. It’s tons better than being fucked up the ass with a cement mixer. Tons better!