[Screen It]

(2010) (Jang Dong-Gun, Kate Bosworth) (R)

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Action/Adventure: The world's greatest swordsman abandons his assassin clan to start a new life in the American Old West, but can't escape his ways.
Yang (JANG DONG-GUN) is a warrior-assassin hailed as the "greatest swordsman who has ever lived." His skills are put to good use in a war of clans, leading the slaughter of his rival clan's entire population. But a crisis of conscience stops him short of killing the last surviving member, a baby who he goes on the run with to the American Old West. Yang knows that as long as he keeps his signature sword in its sheath, his clan will not hear its "weep" and they will not know where to find him.

He travels to a small desert town where a former friend has settled. When he gets there, he finds that his friend has passed away and that the town is populated almost solely by the remnants of a failed carnival and circus. He is befriended by Eight-Ball (TONY COX), a little person who was the former Master of Ceremonies for the carnival; Ron (GEOFFREY RUSH), an alcoholic former bank robber who is quite handy with a rifle; and a local woman named Lynne (KATE BOSWORTH), who still grieves over the murder of her parents at the hands of the ruthless Colonel (DANNY HUSTON). Yang and Lynne subsequently fall in love.

Yang's peaceful new life, though, is threatened by the return of the Colonel and his gang of marauders. And when Yang whips out his sword to defend his town, he exposes himself and his friends to his old clan under the leadership of Saddest Flute (LUNG TI), Yang's former mentor. A gargantuan battle royal between ninjas, warriors, gunslingers, and carnies ensues.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits.

Generally, when action-adventure movies like "The Warrior's Way" aren't screened for reviewers, you can look at the film's running time and know why. More often that not, such flicks barely make it to the 90-minute mark. Two things -- either a weak script or chaos in the editing booth -- generally do in such films as the Powers That Be become overly obsessed with getting to the action as quickly as possible with little regard for character, plot, or motivation. "The Warrior's Way" bucks that trend, clocking in at 100 minutes. And, uh, it should have been about 85!

That's because the film's gargantuan action-filled climax involving ninjas, gunslingers, and (yes) carnival folk (!) is so bloody, so cool, and so over-the-top crazy! But you have to slog though about 75 minutes of exposition, bad acting, and zero chemistry between the two leads to get there. That duo would be South Korean actor and swordsman Jang Dong Gun as an enigmatic assassin who flees to a desert town in the American Old West when he refuses to kill a baby belonging to a rival clan and Kate Bosworth as a sassy, dagger-throwing American woman with a tortured past.

These two have the worst on-screen romantic chemistry since...well, Jackie Chan and Amber Valletta in "The Spy Next Door." Fortunately, the film also has professional scene-chewers Geoffrey Rush and Danny Huston as an alcoholic gunslinger and the main villain, respectively. It also has ninjas. Lots and lots of ninjas! I rate it a 5.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed December 3, 2010 / Posted December 3, 2010

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