The Warrior’s Way is a genre-mixing thrill ride that borrows the best parts from some of your favorite films of the past few years. Coming in, I assumed I would be watching some strange hybrid of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and perhaps Lonesome Dove. I had no idea how close it would resemble a ninja 300.
An assassin for a group called the Sad Flutes, Yang (Jang Dong-gun) can’t bring himself to murder an infant prince. Knowing this means they both will be targeted by the Flutes, Yang takes the prince with him to the western town of Lode. There he finds himself drawn into a fight with The Colonel (Danny Huston), who wants to control the town with his gang of outlaws. It isn’t long before the Sad Flutes warriors show up with their ninja skills.
Director Sngmoo Lee makes his debut with Way, and he shows his influences proudly for all to see. From Sergio Leone’s Man With No Name Trilogy to the anime Cowboy Bebop, it’s all up on the screen. The film was produced three years ago and is just now making its way to the US, so the fact that it resembles the hot-at-the-time CGI all the time look of 300 is perhaps not such a surprise, but something I couldn’t help but wonder while watching this was if the delay in releasing this to the States actually helped the film in a way. If this had been released here three years ago, there is a strong possibility it would have disappeared into the mix of all the other green screen movies that were being released every week. Now, three years later, this actually comes off as an alternative. Take my word for it, there is nothing else playing at your local cinema that is anything like this.
Before release, the funny way to describe this movie was, “It’s cowboys versus ninjas!” Amazingly, that really is what the film boils down to. Lee manages to somehow produce this perfect blend of samurai, western, and live action anime film in his feature film debut. If this is his first shot at making a movie, I can’t wait to see what he produces in the years to come.
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