It would be easy to pick apart Sngmoo Lee’s The Warrior’s Way. The plot is ridiculous, the acting runs the gamut form ham-fisted to comatose and the sheer number of nonsensical moments it contains would sink a film that takes itself too seriously. To be sure, this is not such a movie. Lee’s intent is to dazzle us with his singular, garish vision of the Old West in which every sunset is painted, every death is quick and bloody and moral ambiguity is everyone’s stock and trade.
Way starts as every good western does, in the Far East. We meet Yang (Dong-gun Jang), the greatest swordsman in the world (comic book lettering assures us this is so) who makes the mistake of taking pity on the final member of the clan his group, the Sad Flutes, has vowed to destroy. Adopting the infant girl of his enemy as his own, Yang flees to America to look up an old friend, knowing full well that his former allies will eventually track him down.
The warrior does his best to fall off the face of the earth and landing in Lode (the “Paris of the West” it modestly proclaims) would seemingly do the trick. Sporting a population of 500, all of its citizens are circus folk who are intent on building a Ferris wheel that will revitalize the town. We’re not sure where these folks live, as most of the buildings are in disrepair. However, once you ask a question like this, you’re obligated to ask 100 more (Where do those flying ninjas fly from?), and where’s the fun in that?
There’s plenty of fun to be had if you can wrap your mind around Lee’s blood-soaked aesthetic and his penchant for cartoonish, yet captivating, green screen effects.
To be sure, The Warrior’s Way, is not for all tastes as not everyone appreciates rapid-fire decapitations. However, those who give it a chance will discover a wildly entertaining movie that succeeds in cutting out a distinct visual flourish amid a bland cinematic landscape.
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