'The Warrior's Way' picks up bits and pieces from other movies and directors. It feels like Tim Burton decided to make a spaghetti western. Its tone, at times, sounds like Quentin Tarantino is furiously penning line after line of vague dialogue behind the camera. Its special effects look like Zack Snyder was bored one day and decided he was going to make a movie about ninjas. It's an amalgamation of styles, genres, and effects, but they don't quite fit together.
Yang (Dong-gun Jang) has spent his entire life training to become the world's most feared assassin. His clan has been warring with another clan. In what amounts to genocide, Yang's clan – nicknamed the Sad Flutes – kills everyone from the other clan. There's one person left. A small baby girl. Yang can't bring himself to slay the baby, so he flees. His trainer and a whole load of ninjas are in tow. Yang has dishonored the clan and spared an enemy. He must be done away with.
The action in 'The Warrior's Way' plays out like a video game. Yang rarely meets an attacker's sword with his. Instead he slices through assailants with lightning speed. They never stood a chance. Most of the action sequences are stylized green screen sequences that seem to come straight from the Snyder handbook of green screen action sequences. Although, the CG here looks like it's lacking in the funds department.
Yang makes his way to America and finds a small, western town to settle down in. He meets a group of assorted characters. There's a drunk named Ron (Geoffrey Rush), a troupe of carnies, and a young redhead named Lynne (Kate Bosworth).
The town has its own problems. A rowdy group of outlaws, led by The Colonel (Danny Huston) visit every once and a while to fulfill The Colonel's perverse needs of having a woman with straight teeth. Why this is the certain fetish he's picked isn't explained, but it's certainly weird. Lynne has a past with The Colonel. He killed her entire family, and now she's planning revenge.
Yang has sealed up his samurai sword, and taken to doing the town's laundry and growing flowers in a makeshift garden. He likes his new life. He's tired of killing, but with The Colonel's boys, and the ninjas looking for Yang, all turn up at the same time for a bloody conclusion. Yang has no choice but to save the town he's grown to love.
There are times where Sngmoo Lee's film feels like a well put together samurai movie. Yang's backstory is touching. The movie seems to fall apart visually though. There are so many styles bouncing off one another it's hard to get a feel for what the movie should be. Perhaps that's the point, but it's easy to feel like all the different aspects aren't meshing together quite like Lee thought they would.
The action scenes are more artsy than action-y. Yang zips in and out of opponents, slicing them up easily. He's never in any real danger, so we know that he will eventually overcome the obstacles placed before him. The ending, however, is moving, and ventures back through Yang's sad story. He'll never have a normal life, because he kills people for a living. It's just disappointing that the rest of the movie doesn't work well with its various parts.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Fox has provided a combo pack for this Blu-ray release. It's a two-disc set; a BD-50 Dual Layer Disc along with another disc for the Digital Copy. The Blu-ray comes with a slipcover that has the same artwork as the case's front cover, but the back of the slipcover and the back of the case are completely different.
Fox's 1080p AVC-encoded picture looks just splendid. Fine detail is high. Individual grains of sand can be seen blowing in the wind. There's a shot at the beginning of the movie where Yang drags his sword through a road made of small pebbles. Each pebble is visible along with its nuanced distinctions and individual shades of gray.
Blacks are wonderfully deep and contrast is top-notch. Textures take on a lifelike feel. The movie is intentionally saturated so colors pop even more. Yang's flower bed is a cornucopia of colors – bright reds, deep blues, lush greens, and vibrant pinks.
'The Warrior's Way' looks great on Blu-ray, and it's stylized nature lends itself to the format quite nicely. My only complaint is that the HD enhances some of the special effects that appear to be made on the cheap. It's easy to tell what's CG and what's not. As for technical anomalies, they're kept at bay. This is a great looking transfer indeed. Fans will be ecstatic.
The audio presentation here is every bit as jaw-droppingly fun as the video presentation was.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix delivers a raucous audible display of sound. Panning effects are perhaps the most enjoyable with this mix. A fly buzzes around Yang's laundry shop flying seamlessly from channel to channel until its inevitable demise. There's a scene where Yang, hidden by a dust cloud of sad, moves swiftly among his enemies slicing their throats. You can hear the sound of the "sad flutes" as their windpipes open (yes that's where the name of Yang's clan came from; gruesome).
LFE is another constant visitor. When it comes around – be it hoof beats from horses, the deep thumping of a Gatling gun, or a humongous explosion – it will rock the very room you're sitting in.
Everything else is well mixed. Dialogue is never lost in the commotion. The movie's soundtrack is evenly dispersed throughout the soundfield, encompassing you. This is an energetic, lively, demo-worthy audio experience.
'The Warrior's Way' becomes too muddled with its marriage of three or four starkly different styles. It feels disjointed, but its story is one of classic Kung Fu. It had potential, but it never comes together like it should. Still, fans of the movie will be happy with its audio and video presentations. They look and sound great. Some people may end up liking the movie, couple that with the stellar audio and video, this Blu-ray is still worth a look.