THE WARRIOR'S WAY - Better Stay Away
THE WARRIOR'S WAY (fantasy adventure in 3D)
Cast: Kate Bosworth, Yang Dong-gun, Geoffrey Rush, Danny Huston, Birol Tarkan Yildiz, Tony Cox, David Austin, Matt Gillanders, Kathleen LaGue and Nic Sampson
Director: Sngmoo Lee
Screenplay: Sngmoo Lee
Time: 100 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: This 'rojak' (Malaysian salad) flick is what happens when you mix spaghetti westerns with Samurai 'ramen', add a touch of 300 'sauce' and a sprinkling of Three Men And A Baby.
The result is that it looks interesting but tastes horrid. With everything over-the-top and overdone, The Warrior's Way is a case of over-indulgence in style over substance - a waste of human talent.
THE SKINNY: Think of all the cinematic cliches of the two genres and you will find them here. Our Asian hero is Yang (Korean star Yang Dong-gun) who trained since childhood to be the 'world's greatest swordsman ever'. He is sent by his clan to kill every one of their rival clan. However, when he meets the last one, he finds that he cannot do it - because it is just a baby. Cliche: Hard-ass killer is a softy at heart!
The consequence is that every member of his clan are now obliged to kill him and Yang flees to the Wild Wild West with the infant. There, he settles in Lode, an almost deserted desert town inhabited by circus freaks, drunks and other losers. All of a sudden, we find Yang speaking English to his new friends, the tomboyish Lynn (Kate Bosworth), the ringleader Eight-ball (Tony Cox), and the drunken Ron (Geoffrey Rush). Cliche No. 2: Yang opens a laundry shop - just like any Oriental who migrates to the Wild Wild West, and teaches Lynn the art of knife-throwing (what else?).
More cliches: A bunch of bullies led by 'The Colonel' (Danny Huston) rides into town and abuse the locals, specially seeking out Lynn - who has a history with the gang. And even more cliches: A score of Oriental ninjas, led by Yang's ex-teacher Saddest Flute (played by Ti Lung) arrive for the climactic battle of swords versus guns!
HITS AND MISSES: And of course the technical cliches include digitised backdrops, blood sprays, physics-defying stunt work and micro-slow-motion shots of flying bullets and blades - all rendered so lavishly and senselessly that they evoke nothing in the audience. On the surface, director Sngmoo Lee's stylish rendering transports us to the neo-realistic East-meets-West world that he has created. However, having taken his audience there, he is at a loss as to what happens next - and resorts to cliches and borrowed ideas.
As for the cast, everyone seems to be portraying a cartoon version of their characters. Well, everyone except for Yang and the baby, Analin Rudd. Yang manages to stay wooden and unaffected throughout while little Rudd steals the scene from under his nose! Ti Lung, a veteran of Hong Kong sword-fighting films, manages to keep just one expression throughout the show. Besides the baby, the one star who sustains our interest is Bosworth (pictured) who gives her tomboyish Lynn a naturally sexy and tongue-in-cheek touch while others seem to be hamming their roles to the hilt. Anyway, in a film as ridiculous as the narrative and as dull as its desert, she is the only flower that that blooms.
THE LOWDOWN: Eye candy but ultimately disappointing.