Directed by: Sngmoo Lee
Premise: An Asian warrior (Dong-gun Jang) refuses to kill an infant who is the last survivor of a rival clan. The warrior flees to a small town in the American west while being pursued by assassins from his own clan.
What Works: The Warrior’s Way is a gorgeous looking film. Unlike some similarly styled films, the attention to beauty is ongoing throughout the picture and the quieter, dramatic scenes are staged with as much craft as the action set pieces. The Warrior’s Way effectively mixes the Western and Samurai genres and the combination of the two reveals their many similarities.
What Doesn’t: As good as The Warrior’s Way looks, the film is very superficial and lacks any emotional appeal. The problem is rooted in the casting of the lead character. Martial arts expert Dong-gun Jang is cast in the lead role but his talent with a samurai sword is not matched by his acting abilities. Unfortunately for Jang, The Warrior’s Way is not wall-to-wall action and the slower and more dramatic second act of the story is so underwritten that it requires a capable actor to fill in the emotional beats. The production would have been much better off casting a more skilled actor and then training him to do the action than the other way around. The other characters in The Warrior’s Way suffer from a similar lack of depth, such as a tomboy played by Kate Bosworth and the city drunk played by Geoffrey Rush, and a lot of the dialogue is hokey and forced. Without any engaging characters, the film slips into cliché scenes of swordsmanship training and fortune cookie wisdom.
Bottom Line: The Warrior’s Way aspires to be a dramatic film with samurai and western elements but because the film does not take care with its characters the result is an action film without much action and a dramatic story with no dramatic payoff.
Episode: #319 (December 19, 2010)