The Warrior’s Way wastes no time in getting to the bloodshed. No more than a minute or two into the film, a decent number of bodies are lying on the ground bleeding out. With a certain humorous tone to it thanks to some witty onscreen text, it seemed like The Warrior’s Way was about to prove itself as a stupid, fun, bloody, action packed adventure that wasn’t going to take itself seriously. But then something happened. Taking a wrong turn somewhere, it skipped the bloody fun and kept the stupid.
South Korean actor Jang Dong-gun plays Yang, our warrior hero. A long time ago, Yang joined a warrior clan with the desire to become the greatest swordsman ever. To do so, he must eliminate all forces in an opposing clan. When we meet him, he has only one target left, a little baby princess. After seeing the life in her eyes, he decides that killing her would be wrong, so he spares her and flees to a run-down village where he meets Lynne, played by Kate Bosworth. He eventually comes to love the place and the people and wishes only to live a normal life, but his decision has made him number one on his clan’s death list and it’s only a matter of time before they find him.
The Warrior’s Way is a movie that needs no story. It needs no character development. It needs no distinct look. It doesn’t even need to be what one would consider good. All it needs is to be fun. Unfortunately, it can’t even live up to that paltry standard. Much like Ninja Assassin, which was released around the same time last year, The Warrior’s Way too often gets bogged down in melodramatic nonsense. We don’t care about the character's pasts. We don't care about what pains they've gone through. We don’t care about a budding romantic relationship. But both movies include all of them and more. However, Ninja Assassin at least managed to deliver some satisfying action complete with some grotesquely bloody violence. The Warrior’s Way doesn’t. In retrospect, Ninja Assassin is looking pretty good.
Once it gets past the admittedly cool opening, it does little more than sit around and provide boring exposition. When the action finally comes around near the end, it’s a slap in the face for those who have waited patiently hoping for a decent payoff. Yang is a master swordsman, so all of his kills happen quickly, most in the blink of an eye. If they aren’t clouded in a dust storm or shown as silhouettes on a wall, you may catch a glimpse of what’s going on, but it’s a one-sided affair. Yang is so quick that his victims never fight back, or even have a chance to. You aren’t watching battles so much as you are massacres.
There are only two true fights in The Warrior’s Way, neither of which are particularly interesting. One occurs between Lynne and her arch-nemesis, Colonel, played by Danny Huston, but its significance is missing is because his character exists for unspecified reasons. It's never explained who he is, where he came from or why he is tormening the village, so you won’t care what happens. The other is the big climax that should remain unspoiled, but I must warn you not to expect much from this either due to its general brevity and poor choreography.
The acting in the film is stilted, the dialogue is inconsequential and nothing is done with the otherwise appropriate cartoony/comic book-esque visual style. Thankfully, The Warrior's Way only runs around an hour and a half, so the torturous experience doesn’t last long, but if you decide to see it, it will feel much longer. One can bet on that.
The Warrior’s Way receives 1/5