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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Warrior's Way

June 26th, 2011

The Warrior's Way - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

The Warrior's Way was co-written and directed by Sngmoo Lee, who was making his debut in both jobs. The film stars Dong-Gun Jang, who was making his English-language debut. It was a pretty risky bet giving an unproven writer / director more than $40 million to make a movie that is a fusion of Martial Arts movies and Westerns starring an actor that most people have never previously seen act. It's a gamble that didn't pay off and it became one of the biggest bombs of 2010. Now that it is out on DVD and Blu-ray, will find a larger audience? Will it at least find a cult following?

The Movie

The film's nearly silent protagonist is Yang, whose job is an assassin for one of two warring clans. His passion is to become the greatest swordsman that ever lived. His last mission was to eliminate the last of the clan's enemies, including the current greatest swordsman that ever lived, and the infant girl he's protecting. He quickly dispatches with his foe, but can't bring himself to kill the child. By disobeying his orders, he becomes the clans most wanted enemy.

Knowing his new enemies will never stop chasing him if he stays, he takes the girl and heads to America, specifically a small town called Lode where his friend, Smiley, is living. However, when he gets there, he finds Lode is little more than a ghost town and Smiley is dead. Despite this, he begins to settle down and starts friendships with Eight-Ball, the leader of a traveling circus that's stuck in the town. He also meets Lynne, who he shares a bond with, as both has seen trauma in their past. However, while Yang just wants to live a peaceful life, Lynne is still looking to exact revenge on the person who wronged her.

If you've seen any Westerns or Martial Arts movies, then you won't be surprised to learn Lynne gets that chance for revenge. Nor will you be surprised to learn that Yang's violent past catches up with him. The plot for this film is rather predictable, but on a positive note, it is also rather superfluous, so that doesn't really matter. This is definitely a style over substance movie.

But is it a well done style over substance movie? I would give it a mixed grade. There are times when the film looks amazing, if always a little off. It has an alien quality that you sometimes get with a fully greenscreened movie. This might be considered part of the charm, depending on who you ask. Some of the fights went a little over-the-top with style, to the detriment of the action, but a lot still works as a blending of the two genre. And speaking of style over substance, can we please stop with the slow motion? At least tone it down, because at this point it's lost any value it might have had. It's like using bold text to emphasize something. It only works when used sparingly. If every bit of text is in bold, then it is the text that is not in bold that will stand out. And at this point, fight scenes that move at regular speed feel special.

The film is the English-language debut for Dong-Gun Jang, who has previously been in many South Korean films. His character is little more than a stoic hero, while he barely has any lines at all, so it's hard to judge his acting ability with the role. He is believable in the role, which is all that's asked of him. Kate Bosworth is the most energetic actor in the film and that helps her stand out. Plus, I like strong women in films.

Overall, the film is not as bad as its Tomatometer Score, and it is a hell of a lot better than its box office performance. It's worth checking out, if you are a fan of the two genres.

The Extras

Both the DVD and the Blu-ray have some deleted scenes and some behind-the-scenes as extras. There are about a dozen deleted scenes with a total running time of 12 minutes, but the behind-the-scenes runs just over two minutes. The Blu-ray also comes with a Digital Copy of the film.

Technically the film looks great, at times. The film's visual style is such that the movie doesn't look real. Sometimes there's lot of grain, the colors are intentionally limited in many scenes. But when called for, the transfer can shine. The audio is good with clear dialogue, while the surround sound speakers are used frequently.

Unfortunately, while the list price for the Blu-ray is only 33% more than the list price for the DVD, the discount on the latter is a lot more, so the final price for the Blu-ray is 50% more than the DVD. That's a lot to ask.

The Verdict

The Warrior's Way is not a great movie and the plot drags at times. On the other hand, the genre bending action is fun in an over-the-top fashion and fans of the two genres will want to check out the film. I would recommend starting with a rental, but if you are interested in buying, the Blu-ray doesn't offer a whole lot over the DVD, so keep an eye on the price.

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