The Far East meets the Wild West head on in this thrilling mash up of Ninja/Samurai movies and Spaghetti Westerns.
When his conscience finally gets the better of the world’s greatest swordsman/assassin, he abandons his warrior clan to begin a new life in the wild frontiers of America.
Cast: Jang Dong-Gun, Geoffrey Rush, Danny Huston, Kate Bosworth, Tony Cox, Ti Lung. Written and Directed by Sngmoo Lee.
Now, let’s be honest, Ninja versus Cowboys sounds like a terrible low budget premise for a film, but if anyone is familiar with the classic 1971 Charles Bronson/Toshiro Mifune feature “Red Sun” they’ll already know that even a cheesy sounding prospect like this, can actually make for a damn good movie, and that’s exactly what The Warrior’s Way is… a damnably good movie.
Paying homage to spaghetti westerns, 80’s ninja movies and almost certainly – the fantastic Lone Wolf and Cub series, Warrior’s Way stars South Korean actor Jang Dong-Gun as Yang, elite assassin of the Sad Flute clan, and a warrior with eyes as empty as his soul. Training his entire life to become the greatest swordsman in the history of mankind, and with one deft and measured strike of his blade, he achieves this lifelong accolade in the opening sequence of the movie.
But when Yang is tasked to kill the last member of a rival clan of ninja, and it turns out to be an infant girl, he abandons his clan and with the child in his care, leaves Japan and heads for the wild frontier town known as Lode to find an old friend. Settling into the town, Yang finally finds a measure of humanity and peace away from his former life of death and violence. With the child under his protection and his former clan far across the sea, Yang opens a laundry, grows flowers in an otherwise scorched and dead land, and increasingly finds himself attracted to Lynne (Kate Bosworth) a strong willed redhead with a tragic past.
But his peace is soon shattered when Colonel (Danny Huston) and his posse of marauders arrive en-masse to terrorise the town, and just when it looks like things couldn’t get any worse, Yang’s ninja clan arrive to the party with one thought in mind, kill everyone and regain their clan’s honour against the one they see as a traitor to their code.
Warrior’s Way marks Sngmoo Lee’s directorial debut, and it’s an auspicious one. Also solely credited for the script, Lee shows real talent for stylish action and real visual flare. Stylistically similar to Zack Snyder’s “300” with its combination of physical sets and computer generated backdrops, that explode with gorgeous hues of red and orange and give the film a fantastic comic-book stylised look.
The film’s soundtrack by Javier Navarette is fantastic, a contemporary and elegant mix of Morricone style spaghetti westerns with an Eastern flourish. Increasing in tempo beautifully with the action sequences and really immersing you into the violent onscreen encounters.
With a fantastic supporting cast that includes Danny Huston as the evil Colonel. American actor, Huston is an expert in playing malevolent and villainous characters (witness his turn as head vampire in the fantastic “28 Days of Night”) The brilliant Australian actor Geoffrey Rush puts in yet another sterling performance as Ronald, one time expert gunslinger but now a broken down drunk, who secretly yearns for the glories of his past and a lost love.
Kate Bosworth plays feisty Lynne, orphaned and left for dead as a teenager by Colonel, and seeking revenge for her family’s untimely demise, pulled towards Yang initially to learn his martial techniques, she finds herself increasingly attracted to him romantically as the story plays out. And special mention must go to American actor Tony Cox who plays 8-Ball, the film’s comedic role, and is highly entertaining in this capacity with great comic timing.
The film’s action sequences are wonderfully choreographed and exhilarating, exhibiting an almost perfect blend of Crouching Tiger-Hidden-Dragon and The Matrix.
The movie marks the perfect symbiosis of Sergio Leone style spaghetti western and stylish Samurai movies, visually and aurally enthralling with a wonderful cast that are clearly enjoying their roles. This is a fun, kinetic and stylish film and if you have any love of action cinema, martial arts or spaghetti westerns, then The Warrior’s Way comes highly recommended.