The premise of “The Warriors Way” is certainly interesting enough: A warrior/assassin named Yang (Dong-gun Jang) sets out to become the greatest swordsman as he, alongside his group, the Sad Flutes, fight to destroy their enemies. Yang is capable and manages to wipe out his enemies with the exception of one baby girl who he refuses to kill. Only, the Sad Flutes insist that every person from the opposing group must die, which puts Yang at odds with his fellow assassins, forcing him to take flight along with the baby.
Of course, if the story was merely the tale of Yang escaping with the child he spared and their travels to a new and better life, it wouldn’t be quite as interesting as the story “The Warriors Way” sets out to tell. And by interesting, I do mean interesting. The film combines an action-ninja film with the western, and then adds in an element of a rundown circus town. While all of the elements alone have provided the groundwork for some memorable films, “The Warriors Way” struggles at times in welding the elements together. However, the moments where the film lags, or looses its footing don’t last for long and the things that sometimes work against it, end up being one of its strengths. If it had been another western or another ninja film, it might not have been as memorable as it was.
The story begins to unfold further when Yang arrives in the small, circus town where a group of locals, including Ronald (Geoffrey Rush) and a young woman named Lynne (Kate Bosworth), embrace him and help him find work. As time moves forward, Yang begins to enjoy his new life, the baby, and the company of new friends. While elsewhere, the Sad Flutes wait to realize where Yang is, so that they can go to find him. Lynne eventually asks Yang to train her to fight like a warrior, as she has revenge on her mind from a wrongdoing from her past.
Eventually Yang and Lynne’s pasts catch up to them, and both fight together; Yang against his former group, and Lynne against the man who killed her family. One of the best things going for “The Warrior’s Way” are the fight scenes that shine against such a memorable backdrop. A small western-circus town is about the last place you expect ninjas to fight, but there’s something about the juxtaposition that works incredibly well.
The film has a lot of storylines taking place, and around an hour and forty minutes, they often feel rushed and muddled. There’s the story of Yang and the baby, Yang and the Sad Flutes, Lynne and her past, Lynne and Yang’s relationship (both romantically and in training), Yang’s past, and more. All of the elements are interesting, but sometimes it feels like the story is trying to make an epic out of what is a relatively short film. What keeps “The Warrior’s Way” going is the look of the film, the fight scenes, and Yang’s story. Dong-gun Jang gives a memorable performances as the warrior/assassin torn between his heart and his fight. Bosworth gives an endearing performances as tough-but loving Lynne, and Rush provides enjoyable performances as well.
While there’s a lot to follow in “The Warrior’s Way,” the story holds up thanks to an interesting combination of characters and setting. The ending is bittersweet, but carries on the tone of the film well. With such a short running time, “The Warrior’s Way” is worth checking out.
VIDEO: The film is presented in 2.40:1 (1080p/AVC) by 20th Century Fox. The transfer is a dazzler with excellent sharpness and detail throughout the majority of the show. Some minor shimmer was seen in a couple of scenes, but the majority of the presentation was crisp and clear. Colors appeared accurate and pure, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film's DTS-HD 5.1 presentation was also a delight with active surround use for effects and ambience, and the film's sound mix remained rich and detailed. Audio quality was terrific, with excellent clarity and enjoyable low-end bass at times. Dialogue remained crisp and clean, as well.
EXTRAS:There isn’t much in the way of extra features, only a brief “Behind The Scenes” feature and some “Deleted Scenes” are included.
Final Thoughts: A lot takes place in the short running time, but the story holds up thanks to an interesting combination of characters and setting. Worth checking out.