Pretty much all that can be deduced from trailers for The Warrior’s Way is that it has something to do with cowboys vs. Ninjas. Nobody needs more than that, honestly, but the movie’s plot turned out to be surprisingly complex. While The Warrior’s Way doesn’t have the smallest budget in the world, it is clearly limited, but the filmmakers spent what they had in all the right places.
From the very beginning, from the first scene to the last, what caught my attention the most in The Warrior’s Way were the costumes. The costumes were over the top and appear to have been inspired by Mortal Kombat and various space west anime like Trigun and Cowboy Bebop. I want one of the dusters that jeans wear, then I can officially change my middle name to McAsswhoop.
Beyond fast-paced action at the beginning of the movie, the first half of The Warrior’s Way is pretty slow. Combine this with a weak supporting cast and a hit or miss performance, and I became quite flustered by the action. The film’s protagonist, Yang (played by Dong-gun Jang), leaves his country and clan with the last living descendant of his rival clan, due to his inability to murder a baby. Yang ends up heading to the American West to find one of his old friends in a small circus town by the name of Lode. However, upon arrival, he discovers that his friend is dead. From there, an unconditional laundry service ensues (don’t ask). The movie then features a few different factions and the plot becomes more complex than I originally expected.
There are actually two antagonists in The Warrior’s Way. The first is the ninja clan The Sad Flute and its leader, appropriately named Saddest Flute. The Sad Flutes are determined to eliminate the last member of their rival clan, and this faction as a whole reminds me of the assassins of Ra’s Al Ghul from Batman Begins. We also have the Colonel and his men, a rogue platoon that periodically holds the town of Lode hostage so that the Colonel can rape their young men. Clearly, the Colonel is the easiest enemy to hate. When the three factions collide in the second half of the movie, it becomes real.
There are a ton of tricks used to roll The Warrior’s Way, but they are all well executed and rarely repeated. The battles they clearly borrowed from movies like 300, Blade, Resident Evil, and The Matrix are brutally violent, and some of the more exaggerated deaths will make you laugh at their absurdity or cringe in pain. Yang is constantly dodging bullets and slicing his enemies to pieces with lightning speed. Although sword fights are not as epic or similar as those you will find in movies like Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, they are still just as fun to watch.
The CGI in The Warrior’s Way is really hit and miss, and it’s clear that the filmmakers distributed their backgrounds carefully in this regard. A generic narrative-boosting explosion might sound horrible, like something from an early 90s PC game, but complex slow-motion melee looks amazing, with blood, bullets, and limbs flying everywhere.
The good forgives the bad in The Warrior’s Way, and while it’s still pretty much what I expected, it’s not the disappointment I thought it would be. There have been much worse deals this year in the action realm (I’m looking at you Expendables), so action fans shouldn’t miss out on this one.