by Luke Y. Thompson | Fri., Dec. 3, 2010 10:43 AM
Review in a Hurry: It's unfortunate that Thanksgiving is over already, for this is a giant turkey worth carving. The tale of a ninja who emigrates to an unreal Old West with a rival clan's baby in tow is a Gigli-level, what-were-they-thinking disaster that may nonetheless find a cult following among lovers of magnificent misfires.
The Bigger Picture: There are a few hints, early on, that The Warrior's Way is meant to be funny, via a couple of smart-aleck subtitles. Yet most of the laughs it generates are of the uncomfortable kind, as we watch decent actors embarrass themselves, and encounter weird throwaway moments that signify less than is apparently intended.
That there is little plot is expected. Swordsman Yang (Jang Dong-gun, of the excellent Korean war drama Tae Guk Gi) refuses to kill an infant that is the last surviving member of a rival clan, and flees with the child to America. There, in a desert town where half the population are apparently clowns and circus freaks (most notably Tony Cox, barely stepping up from the terrible parody movies he's been sight-gagging in lately), he deals with both evil cowboys and the ninjas who are on his trail.
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That the action is underwhelming, however, is a greater offense. Those looking for fancy fightwork must seek elsewhere, as most of the battles here consist of Yang striking a dramatic pose while throats behind him erupt in red mist. Far more lethal, though, are the romantic scenes with Kate Bosworth's awkwardly accented cowgirl Lynne, who gives it a bold go despite having less than zero chemistry with Jang.
And while we're speaking of terrible accents—Geoffrey Rush, what the hell, man?
If there's any truth to the notion that Eddie Murphy sabotaged his Dreamgirls Oscar chances by appearing in Norbit, the makers of The King's Speech are probably saying their prayers right now that nobody goes to see this thing.
For an example of how to do this kind of hybrid right, check out Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django. Imagine what might happen if Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller sustained head injuries and tried to rip Miike off, and you get this misfire.
To slightly misquote the tagline: Ninjas? Dumb.
The 180—a Second Opinion: The final scene of the movie, unrelated to almost everything that has come before it, is an insane riot. Too bad it isn't worth sitting through the rest of it.