The Warrior’s Way is a cross between a Western and an epic Samurai tale, telling the story of the world’s greatest swordsman-assassin, Yang, the baby princess he rescues rather than kills, as ordered, and the desert town across the ocean that he and the infant hide in.
The town, Lode, is as unlikely as the town of Dirt in Rango or the one-street ramshackle villages in a vast number of Spaghetti Westerns. In this case, though, Lode is populated with a troupe of circus performers, along with their carny tents and Ferris wheel. The townsfolk are occasionally victimized by a vicious killer (Danny Huston), whose Phantom of the Opera-like mask hides burn scars a young girl (now a grown-up Kate Bosworth) gave him with a pot of frying potatoes.
Like the villagers in 1960’s The Magnificent Seven, the clowns and bearded lady are determined to defend themselves against the killer and his villainous cohorts. At the same time, Yang’s clan has made its murderous way to the West, finding Yang through his mentor who has listened across vast distances for the sound of Yang’s blade leaving its sheath. While the villagers are fighting the evil cowboys, the ninja killer squadron flies in, landing on the town’s roofs, like crows. In a free-for-all, masked and hatted ninjas battle the masked and hatted outlaw gang, guns vs. swords, including a Vickers machine gun.
If that sounds like fun, it is. And the movie is brilliantly filmed, one stunning shot after another, all of it completely fantastic and silly (and violent). Dong-gun Jang, a major star in Korea, is stoic and charismatic, while Geoffrey Rush plays the town drunk who also happens to be a (retired) master sharpshooter.
Western purists stay away, but those who like their Asian mystical sword epics tossed with a fantasy version of the Old West shouldn’t be disappointed.