The Warrior's Way

Once upon a time, two clans somewhere in the Far East were at war with each other. Neither side was willing to back down until every person on the other side was dead. Why? I couldn't tell you. If you want to know why things happen in this movie, prepare for disappointment.

Finally, one side ends up down to one last person (Analin Rudd). She doesn't have a sword, since she wouldn't even be able to lift one. Heck, she can't even walk yet, since she's less than a year old. But our hero (anti-hero?) Yang (Dong-gun Jang), is on a mission to entirely wipe out the other side. He's all set to kill her. Then she giggles cutely at him.

Next thing you know, he's carrying the baby through the American Badlands. Well, really New Zealand. I had no idea New Zealand had so much sand in it. He keeps carrying the baby one-handed. I mean, she's safe enough -- she's in something sort of like those slings you can get to carry a baby on your chest -- but it still looks odd. Of course, he also drags the tip of his sword along the ground, so maybe he's just careless. You'd think that the Greatest Swordsman in the History of the World would be more considerate of his tools.

He's in New Zealand -- I mean the Badlands -- looking for a friend of his commonly known as Smiley. Smiley used to run a laundry in a town called Lode, The Paris of the West. Why is it the Paris of the West? Sorry, still can't help you. Anyway, it's really more the Baraboo, Wisconsin, of the West, since it is now inhabited entirely by circus folk. They've got clowns, acrobats, jugglers, a fire-eater, a ringmaster known as 8-Ball (Tony Cox), and Ron (Geoffrey Rush, various installments of Pirates of the Caribbean, and I have to mention him in Elizabeth as Sir Francis Walsingham because he was such a perfect Sir Francis Walsingham). He drinks a lot. I mean, I don't think that's his act or anything, but it seems like he's just loitering around with the circus folk and isn't really one himself.

They also have a would-be knife-thrower named Lynne (Kate Bosworth, 21). Her family was killed by the Colonel (Danny Huston, Clash of the Titans, Robin Hood), who is too evil to have a name. He apparently rides through the Badlands with his army -- well, not an entire army, but it's a lot of guys -- on about a ten-year cycle, looking for girls with good teeth. No, I don't know why there, either. Better to just stop thinking about that.

Anyway, Lynne wants to learn how to use knives so she can take her revenge on the Colonel. Smiley taught her some things, but she still isn't very good, and somehow Yang ends up teaching her the way of the blade while baby April watches. Not only do I not know why they named her April, the point at which they chose that name apparently ended up on the cutting room floor.

It's visually seriously cool. Mysterious swordsmen leap around and almost fly, like in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The sky often looks like a slightly bad green-screen effect, but somehow that fits. Yang and Lynne have a swordfight to the tune of "Calliope". (I think that's what it's called. You'll recognize it when you hear it.) And if you've ever wanted to see ninjas face off against a guy with a gatling gun, here's your chance.

Eventually, though, the lack of sense in, well, anything, started getting to me. Also the carnage. The carnage wasn't anywhere near constant, but when it was there, it was THERE -- body parts and blood flying everywhere. The sword can be a messy weapon. Also dynamite.

I'm too confused to give this more than two and three-quarters out of five. I wanted to like it, I really did; and I did like parts of it. They were just too few and far between, and no baby is adorable enough to carry an entire movie, though she does her best. She radiates adorableness like the Colonel radiates evil. But in the end, it's kind of like Avatar -- often a visual feast, but with barely enough plot to last an hour and forty minutes. At least this film really was only an hour and forty minutes. Avatar stretched that much plot out to six hours, and it was painful. This one was irritating at times, but at least it didn't hurt.

Image: 
Ninjas floating through the air.  But why??

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